Phobias are short- or long-term fears geared towards specific events or stimuli.
When it comes to the fear of the dentist, people have this phobia for different reasons. Some just fear the look and sound of dental tools, some fear pain, others fear the entire experience altogether.
Either way, a dental phobia can be managed and even cured.
Manage your dental phobia with these tips
#1 Distract yourself.
Whether it be a good friend, significant other, or a family member, talking to someone you love and trust about your dental anxiety can certainly ease the anxious mind.
Listening to music or watching something while using earbuds can help block out the sounds of dental tools and act as a distraction during the procedure.
#2 Try deep breathing.
Weeks before the appointment, start working on proper breathing techniques. When you face anxiety, what often happens is that your breathing becomes inconsistent or may even halt for a few seconds. For others with anxiety, they may breathe fast and shallow.
Improper breathing leads to worsen anxiety, the potential for a panic attack, and may even cause you to faint in severe cases. For these reasons, learning to take slow, deep breaths while you’re nervous is key to dealing with your dental anxiety without making matters worse.
#3 Drink a calming tea.
Chamomile and lavender tea in particular have calming effects on the mind and body. These can help clear your mind, give you positive energy, and relax the muscles and nerves. Lemon balm and passion flower also have calming properties.
Different calming herbs may work for one person better than others. Finding the herbs that work for you is essential.
#4 Think positively.
Instead of dreading the thought of your next dental visit or thinking of everything that could possibly go wrong, think of the positive that could come out of your visit.
If you’re just going in for a cleaning/checkup, tell yourself that you’ll come out with prettier, cleaner, and healthier teeth. If you’re going in for a dental procedure such as a root canal or a filling, tell yourself that you’ll leave with better health and less oral pain, for instance.
#5 Don’t underestimate the power of music.
Find a happy, relaxing song you like, and listen to it when you’re in a positive and calm state of mind. Listen to this same song the day of your dentist appointment and perhaps even during the visit.
Doing this will help to bring back that calm state of mind you once had before arriving at the dentist. Listening to music during the dentist appointment is also great if your dental anxiety is mainly caused by the fear of the sound of drills and other dental tools.
#6 Discuss your phobia with your dentist.
Most importantly, dental phobic patients should let their dentist know about their fears.
They may suggest dental sedation, breaks between their dental appointment, or even an appointment during a less busy hour, for instance.
Skipping out on your dental visits for fear of the dentist is not suitable for your oral health. Instead, finding an appropriate dentist and finding the relaxing methods that work best for you can be a huge help in tackling or reducing your phobia of the dentist.