Dental Phobia: 6 Tips to Overcome Your Fear of the Dental Chair
When you think about visiting a dental office, what comes to mind? Terrifying drills, teeth being pulled without being numb and Steve Martin singing his creepy song about being a dentist? Thank you Little Shop of Horrors for giving us all nightmares about going to the dentist. If thinking about sitting in that dental chair makes you nervous, you are not alone! In fact, more than 20 million Americans avoid going to the dentist out of fear. Baby boomers seem to have an even higher occurrence of dental phobia. If you actually remember when the Little Shop of Horrors was first released, then you may not have had the benefit of the widespread use of fluoride which means you probably had many more cavities than your children and grandchildren. You were also around before the latest technologies and improved anesthetics which can help patients relax today. While this fear is very real, it is important for your health to overcome this fear and see a dentist at least once a year. If the health implications aren’t enough to make you defeat your dentist dread, check out these tips to help you get past the anxiety:
- Realize that your fear can be overcome. Fear is a learned behavior, therefore it can be unlearned.
- Never be embarrassed. Millions of Americans share this same fear, so you shouldn’t feel silly when talking about your anxiety.
- Find a dentist you can talk to about your anxiety, understands your fears and will work to help you feel comfortable. Talk to family and friends about their dentist to see if their dentist might be a right match for you.
- Schedule your dental appointment during a time when you aren’t rushed or under pressure.
- Find a distraction. For example, bring a portable audio player so you can listen to music during your visit. This will also help drown out the sound of the drill whether it’s being used on you or in the room across the hall.
- If your anxiety is extreme, talk to your dentist about pain control medications and sedation dentistry.