For some going to the dentist is an exercise in words of affirmation and breathing techniques. It can be a very frightening experience in these different ways but that fear can be managed.
Fear of the Unknown
Most people, especially when entering a new office, simply do not know what to expect. This fear might prevent patients from asking relevant questions and answering honestly or they simply forego a dentist completely. This is why it is important to get to know your dentist first before jumping into any cleaning or procedure. With their office door open, talk to the dentist and answer/ask questions letting them know of some of your fears. This is a service most dentists regardless, but if they do not have the time try scheduling a sit down beforehand to ensure your comfort.
Fear of Equipment
Many people are not comfortable with having strange, sharp, metal tools in their mouth and panic at the sight. It is a perfectly natural reaction especially when the device makes a high pitched whirring sound. A great way to start overcoming this fear is to be given the chance to hold the tools so that they feel less foreign. Also learn the way different tools are used to further eliminate that fear of the unknown.
Sensitive Gag Reflex
People with a sensitive gag reflex are afraid of the part where a dentist puts those tabs in your mouth for dental x-rays. It can be irritating and sometimes even painful and people don’t want to embarrass themselves by showing just how uncomfortable they feel. Fortunately newer offices offer panoramic dental x-rays so you can avoid the gagging.
Dentist Seems Ominous
Find a dentist that shows empathy and a great sense of humor similar to your own. That is why that first meeting is so important in helping you get a feel of the person operating on your mouth. Feeling comfortable with your dentist will alleviate this fear significantly.
That daunting whir of the drill as you enter the dentist’s office or that high pitched sound as it hits teeth is enough to make anyone shiver in fear. Try bringing in noise canceling headphones or earplugs to wear during your appointment and let your dentist know.
Lying in the Chair
A bad back or simply the act of lying flat in the dentist’s chair is a frightening prospect for some people to face. If lying flat is in fact a problem, especially if you have a back injury, do not hesitate to let your dentist know and he or she should be able to work with the seat only pushed down halfway. If that doesn’t work you can request the use of pillows to make yourself feel more comfortable in the dentist’s chair.
Unable to Breathe Through Nose
For most mouth breathers this is a serious and completely valid reason because the place in which the dentist will working in is their mouth impeding their airway. If you are typically a mouth breather, try wearing nasal strips to make it easier to breathe through your nose. Depending on the situation nitrous oxide can also be used to help the patient relax and breathe better.
In the end keeping open communication between yourself and your dentist will go a long way towards alleviating most of your fears so that you may walk out of the office with a beaming smile.