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How to Manage Your Fears of Going to the Dentist

Updated on October 28, 2014

According to American Association of Endodontist (AAE), 80% of adults suffer from a fear of going to the dentist. In fact, more people are afraid of a dental visit compared to flying, speaking in public, or a job interview. This could be because of some past experience with a dentist or a past dental procedure. About one-third of fears come from hearing other people's dental horror stories. What many people don't realize is that there are new advancements in dentistry that may make a past procedure seem archaic and barbaric. Fortunately, there are some simple tips to help ease the fear of going to see the dentist.

The fear of dentistry or receiving dental care is called:

  • dental anxiety
  • dental fear
  • dental phobia
  • dentist phobia
  • dentophobia
  • odontophobia

Communication

Communication is the best tool in overcoming any fear. Simply discuss you fears with your dentist in detail. Ask as many questions as you need to. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Any good dentist will explain what to expect from your visit, whether it is a simple cleaning to oral surgery. The more you talk with your dentist, the easier it may be for you to extinguish your dental anxiety.

Even after talking with your dentist, and you are still fearful of the visit, consider using other techniques to help ease your fears. Many fears are psychological in nature and therefore they can be easier to deal with

Headphones

Consider bringing in music with headphones. This could be in the form of an MP3 player or iPod. This helps block out the sounds which tend to be over-exaggerated to begin with. Pick some music that is soothing and can be a calming distraction for you.

Sleep Mask

Next, consider bringing a sleep mask. Just like the sounds can amplify your fears, so can seeing the dentist with dental tools. Using a sleep mask can be soothing for some people. Combined with the music and you have blocked out sight and sound with is a part of most fears.

Television at the Office

Some dental offices are adding televisions in the ceiling to help distract patients from focusing on the procedure itself. This has made an amazing head way in pediatric dentistry and some adult dentistry doctors are implementing this as well.

Dr. Fallah's treatment room has ceiling and wall-mounted TV along with state-of-the-art equipment and holistic methods for the best in dental care and comfort.
Dr. Fallah's treatment room has ceiling and wall-mounted TV along with state-of-the-art equipment and holistic methods for the best in dental care and comfort. | Source

Make Early Appointments

The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests that patients with dental anxiety should schedule their appointments as early in the morning as possible. This is because the office isn't as busy. Having more people, including other patients, in the office has been known increase fears of the dentist.

Medication

If the fear of pain is the issue, again this should be conveyed to the dentist. If you are afraid of the Novocaine shot, ask for a topical anesthetic to numb the area before the shot is given. This will minimize the pain to just pressure.

For those with severe dental anxiety talk with your dentist to find out if he or she uses anything to help calm your nerves. Some dentists have sedative drugs and techniques to help ease your fears. The ADA insists that sedation used during dental procedures is safe when administered properly. They also suggest that psychological steps should be tried first and use sedation only in severe cases.

Regardless of what may be causing your fears, consider that if you don't address them and have the necessary dental work done, you may have to go in for more advanced procedures as your condition worsens. This may cause you to have even more anxiety and fear than you already had.

© 2014 L Sarhan

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    • Kelsey Farrell profile image

      Kelsey Elise Farrell 

      3 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Linda, likewise! Please feel free to share your info as well--such great tips! https://hubpages.com/health/Scared-Toothless-Manag...

    • LindaSarhan profile imageAUTHOR

      L Sarhan 

      3 years ago

      Thanks! Feel free to post the link in these comments. I think the more information the reader has to consider the better. :D

    • Kelsey Farrell profile image

      Kelsey Elise Farrell 

      3 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Nice hub! I wrote a similar post, but didn't think about the early morning appointments or a sleep mask, which are both great ideas. I find that a lot of dental phobia stems from the cost of even the most basic procedures (such as a filling). Even with dental insurance, it can be extremely expensive the worse off your mouth is.

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