Are you afraid of going to the dentist? Does the thought of stepping foot into a dental practice nothing worse than a nightmare? Then you are not alone. About 5-8% of American people are afraid of going to the dentist, while about 20% of Americans will avoid going to their dentist unless they absolutely have to!
Fear of the dentist or dental phobia can arise due to a variety of factors such as previous bad or painful experiences, an unpleasant side effect of previous treatment or due to a post-traumatic stress disorder. Whatever your reason behind visiting your dentist, the good news is that there are ways in which you can overcome the fear of stepping foot into the dentist’s office.
How You Can Overcome the Fear of Dental Treatment
Here are a few things which can help you get rid of your dental phobia:
1. Acknowledge the Problem
Ignoring a problem will get you nowhere. You can only find a solution to a problem when you understand what the issue actually is. The same applies in case of your dental fear. The first thing you need to accept is the fact that you are worried about going to the dentist.
2. Try to Understand Why
Although it may be difficult for you, you need to figure out why you have a fear of dental treatment. Ask yourself when and why you became afraid of the dentist. Is it because of a previously painful or unpleasant experience? Or is it because the mere sight of the dental instruments and needles sends chills down your spine? Try to figure out the exact reason for your fear, only then can you confront it.
3. Seek Help
Once you know what is keeping you from going to your dentist, the next step is to decide whether you can overcome this fear on your own or if you need help. If your problem is only nervousness or anxiousness, you may be able to tackle it on your own. However, if the problem is more complex, or deeper, such as PTSD, childhood memories or a previously bad experience, then you may have to seek professional assistance. Remember, there is no shame in seeking help for your problems. You can start by discussing your phobia with your healthcare provider or family physician.
4. Meet the Team First!
Now that you have decided that you will face your problem head-on, the next step is to choose a dental practice which you are comfortable with. Make a list of all the dental practices in your area and book an appointment with them for an interview. Only once you have visited all the practices, you can decide which dentist office is better for you. Furthermore, you should be upfront with the dentists regarding your issue and ask them how they will help you overcome it. You should also ask them regarding any pieces of training or certifications they have obtained for the treatment of patients with dental phobia.
5. Sedation Dentistry; the Solution to All Dental Fears!
Sedation dentistry is one of the most effective tools used by dentists for the management of dental phobias. Sedation dentistry involves the use of different types of sedatives to make the patients calm and relaxed while ensuring them that they are conscious enough to respond to the dentist’s instructions during the treatment. The end result? You will remain comfortable throughout the treatment and most importantly, you won’t remember anything about your visit to the dentist! So, no more bad memories!
Depending upon the severity of the phobia, dentists use different levels of sedation to make their patients comfortable:
• Inhalation Sedation – this is the mild form of sedation in which the patient breathes through a mixture of nitrous oxide gas and oxygen. The nitrous oxide gas, also known as the laughing gas, relieves anxiety and also possesses potent pain-relieving effects. The onset of inhalation sedation is very quick, and it goes away as soon as the supply of the gas is discontinued. Inhalation sedation is reserved for patients with mild dental fear or anxiety.
• Oral Sedation – in this moderate form of sedation, you will be asked to take an oral sedative the night before your appointment, and one half an hour before you are called in for your treatment. The sedative effect of oral medication is more potent and tends to last for a longer time. Oral sedation is used for patients who have mild to moderate dental anxiety.
• Intravenous Sedation – in IV sedation, a sedative drug is introduced into the bloodstream intravenously. As a result, the patient undergoes very deep and rapid sedation. An IV sedation is usually reserved for very uncooperative patients, or in cases where multiple procedures need to be performed in a single sitting.
• General Anesthesia – in this type of sedation, the patient does not remain conscious and is generally reserved for long and complex dental procedures.
Sedation dentistry is a safe and effective procedure, provided it performed by an experienced and trained dental professional. When you are selecting a dentist, you must ask them whether they are certified in providing treatment under sedation. If yes, then this will be a huge benefit.
6. Check the Environment
Most dental practices now use modern themes and designs which are effective in reducing anxiety and apprehension. You should choose a dental practice which offers a calm, comfortable and a relaxing environment, such as soothing music or the use of noise-canceling headphones, whatever makes you comfortable!
7. Start with a Simple Procedure
When you have a chosen a dentist, make sure you start with a simple procedure such as teeth cleaning. This will help you in deciding whether you are comfortable with your dentist, and it will also enable you, the dentist, to build a rapport with you. During the procedure, you and your dentist must agree on a stop signal or gesture, so that he or she can stop immediately if you feel uncomfortable.
Thanks to modern dentistry, overcoming your fear of a dentist has become very easy. So, the next time you are trying to convince yourself to visit your dentist for a checkup appointment, remember the tips mentioned in this article, which will surely help you in fighting your fears and making the right decision.