Do you hate the dentist? While it’s normal to moan and groan about making that dental appointment, some people have legitimate fears about seeing their dentist.
If you’re one of those people, you can take comfort knowing you’re not alone. In fact, 30-40 million people are estimated to suffer from dental anxiety and phobia.
But, maintaining your oral health is an important part of living an overall healthy life.
If you find yourself saying, “I hate the dentist,” keep reading to discover our tips on how to overcome dentist anxiety.
1. Identify the Root of Your Fear
The first step in overcoming your fear is to understand why you’re afraid of the dentist. Are you afraid of being put under sedation or does the sound of the drill send chills up your spine?
Once you decide what aspect gives you anxiety, you can get a better control of your fear.
2. Go to a Dentist You Trust
No matter what aspect of the dentist frightens you, you can always benefit from seeing a dentist you trust. If you don’t like your current dentist, don’t be afraid to look for a new one.
Ask your friends, family, and coworkers for their recommendations. If you’re still unsure, check out online reviews to see which dentists are highly rated and well-liked in the community. Finding a patient and kind dentist can play a huge role in overcoming your fear.
3. Bring a Distraction
Do you ever feel anxious just thinking of the dentist? Well, that same concept follows you into the dentist’s chair.
You want to avoid building things up in your head, so try not to think about your visit in the days leading up to it. When the date rolls around, make sure you have something to distract you. Otherwise, you’ll be sitting in the waiting room thinking off all the possible negative outcomes.
Listening to music with noise-canceling headphones is a great way to stay distracted. You can close your eyes and drown out the sound of any drills or instruments and concentrate on your favorite songs.
4. Go with a Friend
Moral support can be a strong factor in helping you overcome your fears. If you have a big procedure coming up or are going to a new dentist for the first time, don’t be afraid to ask a friend or family member to come with you.
Having that trusted companion will help you feel safer and more confident during your visit.
5. Practice Meditation
Meditation is a great method for battling anxiety of any kind. It focuses on controlling your breathing, which can help slow your heartbeat and make your body feel at ease.
Do plenty of research on meditation in the weeks leading up to your appointment and practice these techniques at home and at work. The more you practice, the better you’ll be. When your appointment rolls around, try meditating in the waiting room and in the chair to calm your anxiety.
6. Research Your Procedure
If you have a root canal or tooth extraction coming up, you may be afraid of the procedure. Will you have to go under anesthetics? What are the side effects?
Well, the good news is dental procedures are very safe and your dentist has likely done the same procedure time and time again. Don’t be afraid to research what will happen during your procedure so you know what to expect.
Does your upcoming procedure involve sodium fluoride varnish? You can learn more about how to apply it.
7. Ask About Pain Management
Are you afraid of pain every time you see the dentist, even if it’s just for a routine cleaning?
Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist about your pain management options. They may be able to use a numbing gel on your gums for a cleaning or upgrade to a stronger sedation for more intense procedures.
8. Talk to Your Dentist
Once you discover the root of your fears, it’s important to communicate these fears with your dentist. Let them know what part you’re afraid of and see if you can think of any solutions together.
They may be able to provide numbing gel if your afraid of pain, offer a panoramic x-ray if you gag with normal x-rays, or use a laser drill instead of a traditional one.
Remember, your dentist wants you to be happy and keep returning for routine cleanings. So, they’ll try to be as accommodating as they can.
9. Come Up with a Hand Signal
If you’re still worried about panicking in the dentist chair, come up with a non-verbal hand signal that will let your dentist know if you need a break. Make sure you pick something simple and show your dentist before they being the procedure or cleaning.
The hand signal is a great technique to regain control in a situation where most people feel vulnerable. It’s hard (or impossible) to speak during your appointment, so sharing hand signals is a good way to get your point across.
10. Go to Therapy
Have you tried all the above tips and still feel overwhelming anxiety at the tough of visiting the dentist? It may be time to see a therapist to help you overcome your fear.
They can talk you through your anxiety and help you come up with a personalized plan to tackle your next dentist visit.
That’s How to Stop Saying “I Hate the Dentist”
If you find yourself saying “I hate the dentist” every time your routine cleaning rolls around, you may suffer from dentist anxiety. But going to the dentist doesn’t have to be that bad. Just follow our tips and tricks to help you get over dentist anxiety.
Do you wish you had whiter teeth? Check out our article on teeth whitening.