It is understandable to feel uneasy about dental procedures, but take a deep breath. If you find the right dentist and focus on a positive experience, you can overcome your fear.
The first step to overcoming your fear of the dentist is understanding you are not alone. It’s a fairly common phobia and it’s reasonable to be uneasy about being orally examined and prodded. The next step is finding the right dentist for you. Don’t be afraid to be picky. Call the office and talk to the receptionist or even the dentist if you can. If the office is dismissive about your misgivings over the phone, it’s not a problem. Move on to the next office.
When you are satisfied with your phone interactions, schedule a visit to meet the dentist in person. Be sure to let them know about your fears and anxieties regarding dental work. This appointment won’t be about getting work done. Just get a feel for the office and the doctor. Once you’re confident that this particular practice is willing to work with you, set up an appointment to get some light work done such as a cleaning. If you haven’t been to the dentist in a long time and you desperately need more invasive work done, there are a few simple steps you can take to make the experience more comfortable.
Bring your own music or a good book. This will keep you occupied while you wait for your appointment to start. If it helps you, take a stress ball or similar item with you. Ask a close relative or friend to come along for moral support. Most dentists don’t mind you taking another person with you into the procedure rooms. Oftentimes, there will already be a place for this trusted individual to sit.
Focus on having a positive experience and take several deep slow breaths. Deep breathing slows your heart rate and helps relax your muscles. As the procedure goes on, ask your doctor to explain what will happen next and about how long it will last. It is especially helpful if they give brief descriptions of the sensations you will experience. This ensures your won’t be surprised or startled during any step in the process.
One of the biggest obstacles is a lack of control in your experience. To negate this feeling, talk with your dentist about a stop signal. For instance, raise you left hand if you begin to feel too anxious or uncomfortable. Remember, it is your procedure and your time. You can walk out at any point if it becomes too much. Make sure the doctor supports this notion. Even if you don’t walk out, it can be enough to get through the procedure if you feel this type of control.
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