Regular visits to the dentist are one of the most important things that you can do to maintain not only a healthy smile but to look after the rest of your health too.
Infections in your teeth can impact other parts of your body, particularly if you are pregnant or have an underlying health condition that makes you vulnerable. Plus, tooth infections are painful and best avoided!
Nobody enjoys visiting the dentist, but what can you do if you are completely terrified?
Enlist The Help of Someone You Trust
Find a trusted friend or family member who isn’t afraid of the dentist, and enlist their help. Ask them to come along to your appointment with you. Your dentist will usually allow you to have someone in the room with you while you undergo your treatment or exam, which can go a long way towards helping you to feel calmer.
You could also ask your friend or family member to drive you there, to remove the worry of having to drive and park or negotiate public transport. It can be helpful to arrange to do something fun after the appointment as well, like watch a movie or go for a coffee (depending on how much work you’ve had done, of course!)
A really effective way to feel less overwhelmed when you’re in the dentist’s chair is to think about something else. Often, the thought of what the dentist is doing is much worse than the experience itself!
Take a CD or an audiobook with you and ask your dentist to play it during your appointment so that you can listen to it and distract yourself. It can be a good idea to arrange this ahead of your appointment so that you can be sure that your dentist has a speaker on hand!
Discuss Your Fears With Your Dentist
This is essential for two reasons. Firstly, if your dentist knows you are afraid, then it will make you feel better and will mean they can approach you more gently.
Secondly, they may actually be able to offer you something to help you! Some dentists, like DentEssential, are able to offer ‘Sedation Dentistry,’ meaning that they can sedate you via IV for your treatment. This helps to minimize pain and also helps to address panic.
Utilizing relaxation techniques is an effective tool to use against dental phobia. Two techniques that you can try are:
- Breathing techniques. Try equal breathing while you are in the chair. This essentially means counting your breaths, so when you breathe in, do it for a count of four, and then the same when you breathe out. You can increase the count as you get used to using the technique. By doing this, you prevent yourself from breathing quickly due to anxiety, and you also give yourself something else to think about!
- Progressive muscle relaxation. Focus on tensing muscle groups for a few seconds and then releasing them. This is a great mindfulness exercise and works to release tension from your muscles too.