Overcoming the Fear of the Dentist, Even as an Adult
Many people have found themselves in a dentist’s chair and become overwhelmed with anxiety and the lack of comfortability. For this reason, some people have grown to fear the dentist. Others have had experiences that produced a fear that has lasted for years, sometimes decades. It is understandable why someone would be afraid of being in a dentist’s chair. You are in a prone type of position, with a man or woman hoovering over your body, peering into your mouth with a different type of instrument every few minutes. This can lead anyone to become fearful of a dentist visit.
There are many things that could have triggered a fear of the dentist, some of them may have even occurred when you were a child, but carried over into your adult life. I know I was afraid of dentists until I was almost twenty-four years old. At that time I had several extractions done due to that fear keeping me away from seeing a dentist. It is much easier, and healthier, to see a dentist regularly even if you have a fear, because in the end you could lose all of your teeth or worse, be in pain the rest of your life.
Become Assertive about Your Comfort Levels
Many patients think that they are supposed to walk into a dentist’s office and immediately become submissive to whatever the dentist instructs them to do. This way of thinking leads to fear of what the dentist will actually do, even with a simple procedure such as teeth whitening. That fear can be eliminated by asserting yourself with the dentist. If you are asserting your needs to the dentist, chances are your pain threshold will be noted and abided by.
Many dentists’ offices will tell you that, “If you feel uncomfortable, talk to us,” because your comfort level is what matters the most when sitting in that chair. If the chair is uncomfortable to you, ask for pillows to help elevate your comfortability. The lights have to be bright for the dentist to perform his or her tasks on your teeth. If this is something that normally bothers you, bring an eye mask along with your next dental visit. No matter what you are uncomfortable about at the dentist’s office, be sure to bring that up with them before any work is completed. This can get you and your dentist on the same level and ensure that your comfortability is an important role in the visit.
Use Music to Sooth Your Nerves
You do not have to have a radio and a good signal to listen to music. Technology has advanced so much so that you can now carry around a play list on a small device called an mp3 Player. Cell phones have the ability to hold play lists as well, making them another great device to own. When it comes to the dentist’s office, it is ideal to have a set of headphones and the ability to listen to soothing music or that of which helps you with your fear. It may not mask all of the sounds of the evaluation room, but it will help to listen to something that you can connect with.
Music may not help everyone. It may be too much to have in ear phones, a blindfold, and your heart racing. If you’re like me, you’ll want to see everything that is going on and receive updates on what the dentist’s next move is. This too is being cautious as to how your comfort level will vary throughout the visit. When my dentist would imply that his next move was one that I might not find pleasurable, I would then brace myself, but not before letting it known that I do not handle pain very well. This normally resulted in longer evaluations and cleanings, but a careful dentist and a painless process, at least as much as possible.
Attending a Family Dentistry
When it comes to doing fun and exciting things as a family, the dentist does not come to mind. In fact, it is probably one of last things on the mind when thinking of fun in general. Therefore, to make it more interesting, pick a family dentistry that everyone in your family can enjoy together. When scheduling appointments, you could schedule them together on the same day so that your spouse or children can be present when you are being seen. This not only helps to focus your fear on making sure that they are behaving and doing as they should, but it also gives you a special type of comfort by having your loved ones near.
Even though adults may fear the dentist, children fear them even more. Some children are so afraid of the dentist that they show out and encourage disciplinary action while waiting to be seen. This can cause a huge issue when the dentist is actually inside of their mouth and they are moving around and attempting to talk constantly. This type of behavior can be chalked up to their fear of being there and the fact that they are uncomfortable.
My children love to go with me to the dentist, because it’s mommy’s turn to sit in the big chair with the dentist looking at her mouth. They think it is wonderful that I have to go through the same things that they do. In fact, it makes them more willing to get up in the chair, after I have gotten out. I attempt to make it a challenge for them. “If you can do as well as I did in the dentist’s chair, and you have the okay from the dentist, we will get ice cream on the way home,” normally does the trick. Whatever it takes to make them comfortable, even if your nerves are falling apart, is recommended because teaching them not to fear the dentist will lead to a long healthy life of frequent visits and a healthier smile.