Roughly 36% of the population has a fear of the dentist — or dentophobia. For 12% of those people, this fear can be debilitating.
Unfortunately, going to the dentist is a necessary part of maintaining good oral health. So, finding a way to overcome this phobia is critical.
Nervous about your next dentist appointment? Don’t panic. We’re here to help.
Here are a few must-have tips and tricks that can help you overcome or manage your dentophobia.
Identify Your Triggers
What is it about being at the dentist’s that bothers you the most?
If you’re able to zero in on your specific triggers, you can work with your dentist to try to avoid whatever is causing your reaction.
For some people, the smell of a dentist’s office is enough to trigger their phobia. In this case, using something like Vicks VapoRub could mask the smell and help calm your nerves in the chair.
Remember, your dentist only wants what’s best for you and your pearly whites. So, if you’re struggling with dentophobia, they’ll be happy to work with you to find a way to ease your discomfort.
One tried-and-true method of coping with dentophobia is the distraction technique.
Bring a pair of headphones with you to your next dental appointment. Then, while you’re stuck in the chair, try listening to some music, an audiobook, a podcast, or even a TV show to distract yourself from the procedure.
You can even bring a sleep mask or blindfold with you to completely block out the bright lights and focus better on your distraction.
Before trying this technique, talk with your dentist ahead of time. You may need to develop a way for them to get your attention should they need to ask you a question during your procedure.
Finally, the goal of the distraction technique is to take yourself out of a difficult situation mentally.
That said, your dentist will still be working in your mouth. So, try to avoid using any comedy specials or other funny media that might tempt you to laugh during your procedure.
Practicing relaxation exercises is another fantastic way to overcome your fear of the dentist.
Meditation before or even during your visit to the dentist can help you calm yourself down.
You can use meditation as a way to distract yourself while you’re in the chair. Additionally, you can also use it as a way to take a step back and analyze each part of your procedure.
Sometimes, breaking a daunting task down into smaller parts can help make it seem more manageable and less intimidating.
Creating and repeating a positive, personal affirmation, either in your head or out loud, can also help ground you during a trip to the dentist.
Squeezing a stress ball is another excellent way to help your body release fear-induced tension. And because stress balls are small and unobtrusive, you can easily use one while in the chair.
Finally, if you can’t find success with any of the above methods, you may want to talk to your doctor and your dentist about medicating.
Whether you use general anesthesia or just a mild sedative, medicating is a surefire way to get your mind and body to relax during dental work. That said, you should only resort to medicating as a last resort, especially for simple procedures like cleanings.
Overcoming Your Dentophobia
By following a few of these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to ease your dentophobia and turn your next dentist appointment into a walk in the park.
Ready to schedule an appointment and take these tips for a spin?
Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment with us today!