There are people who get nervous even when they just think about going to the dentist. They might be scared because they think the visit might hurt. Others are scared because they haven’t been to James W. Mellert, their dental clinic in Torrance, in a long time and they aren’t sure what the dentist will find.
No matter the reason for your apprehension, the fear is real and it affects many people, some to the point they haven’t seen a dentist in years. Dental phobia is a serious condition that up to 20 percent of the population suffers. They exhibit classic avoidance behavior. That is, they will do just about everything to avoid going to the dentist.
You might think their fear of the dentist is totally irrational, and it is, but they are unable to do anything about it. Other signs of dental phobia include trouble sleeping the night before a dental appointment, feeling physically ill the day of your appointment and difficulty breathing.
There are many reasons people are afraid of going to the dentist, here are a few.
Fear of Pain
Fear of pain is a common reason people avoid going to the dentist office. This fear stems from earlier dental experiences in which the treatment was painful or otherwise unpleasant. But thanks to advances in dentistry, most procedures and less painful and many are pain-free.
Feeling of Helplessness
It is common for some people to feel helplessness or a loss of control. You are, after all, sitting prone in a chair with your mouth wide open, unable to see what is going on.
Fear of Needles
The notion of a huge needle being jammed into your mouth isn’t easy to swallow. Needles are scary enough without having to think about the fact you will be having one going in your mouth.
Others fear that the injection won’t work and they will suffer immense pain when the procedure begins.
There are people who worry about the side effects that can crop up when getting a dental treatment. You might feel faint or suffer nausea during a treatment and it is likely you will have a numb lip when it is all done.
Loss of Personal Space
Some people have a difficult time when people are invading their personal space. Others feel self-conscious about their breath or the appearance of their teeth.
The key to coping with your fear of the dentist is talking to your dentist about your fears. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, they will work with you to determine ways to make you feel less anxious. Here are other ways to manage your anxiety about going to the dentist.
Kick out the Jams
If the sound of a drill in your mouth bothers you, drown the buzzing out with some gnarly tunes. If you are feeling tense and scared, calm yourself with some relaxing classical music or some other kind of music that relaxes you.
Bring a Friend
Bring someone you trust, someone who isn’t afraid of dentists, to sit with you during the exam to help put you at ease. This would also be a person who could speak for you when you can’t and help take control of the situation.
There are professionals out there who specialize in fears people have and help them to overcome them. So, yes, you can go and lie down on a couch and tell the guy with the pen and notepad about your life and how you hate going to the dentist office.
Teach yourself how to relax through meditation. Practice a mantra or do whatever you can to learn how to better control your fears. Once you have mastered this, go to your dentist and see how well it works.
We all seem to feel a little more at ease while wearing sunglasses.
Hold on Loosely
Bring something with you that you can hold during the procedure, like a teddy bear or a stress relief ball. A teddy bear will bring you comfort and a stress ball is a way to take your mind off what is going in at the moment.
If your anxiety is bad enough, you might want to consider taking a medication to keep you calm. This is something you should discuss with your dentist.
Give the Signal
Before your procedure, let the dentist know that if you raise your hand, it is a signal for them to stop for a moment.
If your fear of the dentist is bad enough, you might want to talk with your dentist about sedation dentistry. Anesthesia just might be the best option.
If you have dental phobia, give us a call at James W. Mellert and we can discuss ways we can work around your fears.