Oral hygiene is hugely important, which is why regular dental checkups are so vital for your overall health. However, a significant portion of the population avoids going to the dentist regularly, meaning that problems can persist or worsen over time. According to research, about a third of Americans (36 percent) have a fear of going to the dentist, with 12 percent of people having extreme anxiety.
Because dental health is so valuable, it’s imperative for those with dentophobia to learn how to overcome their fears. Fortunately, there are a few tried-and-true methods to do this. That said, it’s important to understand that everyone is different, so some tactics may work better than others.
What Causes a Fear of the Dentist?
Dental anxiety can have a few root causes, so it’s essential to understand the source of the problem so that you may fix it.
The most common reasons for treatment fear include:
- Past Experiences – Going to the dentist as a child should be enjoyable, but not everyone has the same positive experience. Sometimes, having a dental procedure at such a young age can create trauma and fear around the entire process. That’s why we work hard to create an uplifting environment for all of our patients.
- Pain – Although dental checkups and cleanings are necessary, they can sometimes be uncomfortable. Many people avoid going to the dentist because they’re worried about experiencing too much pain from cleaning and flossing their teeth. We are careful and delicate with our tools so that we can mitigate any discomfort you may feel.
- Loss of Control – Unlike other parts of the body, the mouth feels more intimate and private. So, having someone work inside your mouth can cause anxiety because you’re not in control of what happens to your teeth or gums. Sometimes, having the dentist or hygienist talk through the procedure can help alleviate this anxiety since you can mentally prepare yourself for what comes next.
- Embarrassment Over Dental Health – Not everyone takes care of their teeth as diligently as they should, so some individuals may be embarrassed about their teeth or feel like they will be shamed. We don’t pass judgment – we’re only here to help you take care of your teeth.
How to Overcome Dentophobia
Although we’ll do everything we can to help you overcome your fear or anxiety, there are some steps you can take to be more proactive. If dentophobia is preventing you from taking control of your oral hygiene, here are some solutions.
Talk to Your Dentist and Ask Questions
The best way to alleviate the fear of the dentist is to talk with them and everyone you’ll meet at the office. We’re more than happy to answer any questions you may have, from the specifics of each procedure to the tools we use. You can ask questions before and during your visit so that you understand every aspect of our process. In many cases, fear of the unknown can be a powerful feeling, so talking through everything can help you feel more in control of the situation.
Bring a Friend or Family Member
Sometimes, having someone you trust in the room can make it easier to go through a stressful situation. Usually, knowing that you have someone there to comfort you before and after the procedure can be enough to relieve anxiety. Just make sure to talk to us beforehand if you need to have them in the room with you during the procedure.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
There are numerous relaxation methods available, including breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques, and more. Because fear is rooted in the mind, these strategies can help make you more comfortable with the idea of visiting the dentist. Combined with other tactics like talking with us beforehand, it can make it much easier to come in and go through a checkup or cleaning.
We’re Here to Help You Take Care of You
At Herbert Family Dentistry, we understand that fear can be a powerful emotion, and we want to help you overcome it. Your dental health is important, and we’ll walk you through every step so that you can feel calm and comfortable both before and after the procedure. Call us today to find out more or book an appointment.