Today you have an appointment with your dentist, and you find yourself swimming in a pool of sweat as you ponder what tools will be used, and agonize over the potential of pain from the procedure. Thankfully, a knowledgeable and compassionate dentist can help to calm your fears and provide the confidence you need to walk into your dentist appointment with no worries.
What People Fear Most
The most fearful idea for people is that of the unknown. Thus, the thought of going to the dentist opens a door to a world of ‘what-ifs.’ This leads to endless negative ideas, and mixed with the occasional horror story, can cause a great deal of anxiety.
For others, there are the memories of past unfavorable dental experiences, usually involving pain.
The first step to overcome this situation is to stop beating yourself up over being scared of the dentist. It’s perfectly normal. The next step is to educate yourself about ways to deal with these worries, as well as how certain dental procedures work.
How to Overcome Your Dental Anxiety
Here are four things you can do to have a positive dental visit.
- Speak Up – Get the fear out and in the open by talking about it. By expressing your concerns to your dentist and staff, you now allow them to help answer any questions you may have and calm your concerns. This is also an excellent opportunity for the dental team to provide you with coping mechanisms to ease your fears.
- Establish a Signal – Agreeing with your dentist on a signal that you’ll give in the event of pain is a way to help alleviate any feelings of helplessness and assure that you don’t have to endure any suffering.
- Distract Yourself – This is something you can do to take your mind off the dental procedure like occupying your hands by squeezing a stress ball. You can also play with an object like a fidget spinner. This can help direct your attention away from all your previous worries. Another strategy is to go to your mental happy place – that place that immediately makes you want to smile when you think of it.
- Use Self-Awareness Techniques – Become aware of every breath you take, counting the time you inhale and exhale, making sure to maintain a constant rhythm. This will help relax your muscles and mind, and filter out negative thoughts and anxiety.
Trust the Expertise of Your Dentist
Trust is another very important tool for overcoming anxiety. Therefore, it’s so important to find a dentist you feel comfortable working with, and who is willing to educate you in addition to providing superb dental care. When you feel like you are in good hands the other fears are naturally subdued.
About the Author
Practicing since 1981, Dr. Stephen C. Fisher has spent his entire career on the cutting edge, receiving advanced training in the area of jaw joint and facial pain dentistry immediately after graduating from dental school. He earned his fellowship in the prestigious Misch Academy – the most well-known implant academy in the world. He practices at Arkansas River Valley Dentistry and can be reached for more information at his website.