Dental Fear, Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia are all interchangeable terms and are all issues that affect many people, young and old, across the globe. Dental Phobia can stem from a variety of things, but unfortunately it all leads to the same outcome: avoiding dental appointments. It’s no surprise that to maintain optimum dental health regular visits to the dentist are necessary, so if you are someone who struggles with this condition, here are 4 tips to help you get past the fear, into that dental chair and onto the road to a healthy, clean set of teeth.
Tell Your Dentist About it
Communication is important in every aspect of life: relationships, work, and most importantly, health care. Dental Phobia is a common condition and it is nothing to be embarrassed about; chances are your dentist has many other patients who also struggle with it just like you! Studies have shown that an estimated 15% of all patients suffer from a dentist related fear, but you can take the first step and address yours with your Dental care workers. Once you address your fear and become proactive about it by being open with your dentist and dental assistants, you start creating a safer environment for yourself, as they’ll take extra care in making sure you are comfortable in every appointment and situation.
Create a Safe Word/Sign
After discussing your fear with you dentist you can agree on certain safe words/signs. This could range from a simple word like “stop” or raising your hand to signal that you need a break from your cleaning/procedure. Be creative and find something that works best for you! These are simple ways to give you the power in the dental chair and not make you feel as though you have no say in what happens during your appointment.
Listen to Music During Your Appointment
Maybe you have a favourite artist who you always listen to when you want to clear your mind, or maybe there is an album that was just released that you haven’t had an opportunity to listen to yet. What better time to lay back and enjoy some music than when you’re sitting in the dentist chair? This will help distract you from what’s happening around you, and will help make the time pass quicker. Talk with your dentist about this to see whether they have headsets that they can provide to you, or if you can bring in your own personal one to use.
Learn Breathing Exercises/Meditation
There are countless exercises and meditation practices you can utilize to help steady your anxiety when going to a dentist appointment. You can find thousands of resources online where people share their personal meditation tips, tricks and techniques. Some of out favorites are:
- Inhaling slowly through your nose while being conscious of keeping your shoulders relaxed, and then exhaling slowly through your mouth with your lips slightly pursed and your jaw relaxed.
- Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Use your hands as reminders to continue to breathe during the appointment. Alternate between focusing on expanding and contracting your chest for one deep breath, and then expanding and contracting your abdomen. This will keep the focus on your breathing and not on your appointment.