A fear of the dentists puts thousands of people off regular dental hygiene routines, every year. If going to the dentist sends chills down your spine, there are ways you can work around that. Here are some useful tips on preventing dentaphobia from ruining your smile.
Until you feel the cold fear of the dentist that keeps you awake the night before an appointment, you never truly know what suffering it involves.
What is Dentaphobia and How Common is it?
A fear of the dentist affects about 36% of the population, according to Karger General Medicine. Not only are 36% of us scared to attend the dentist, 12% of us experience extreme symptoms. Dentaphobia, or dental phobia, can cripple the sufferer in extreme cases.
Mild symptoms of dentaphobia include elevated levels of anxiety surrounding attending appointments. In this case, your dentist might wish to sedate you during complicated or lengthy dental procedures. If you have an extreme reaction to the dentist, you can expect to suffer repetitive vomiting, insomnia, an inability to remember appointment times, confusion, shock, and other debilitating symptoms. In extreme cases, you may pass out in the chair.
As you can imagine, this very real phobia prevents thousands of Americans every year from attending routine dental appointments. Something as simple as a deep cleaning can cause two days off work and a trip to the psychiatrist.
Useful Tips for Treating a Dental Phobia
Here are workable tips on how to manage dental anxiety in a productive, progressive way.
Get a Dentist that Knows
For the best possible experience at the dentists, search for “a professional dentist near me” with expertise in treating nervous patients. That is the key concern here. You want to attend a dentist who has experience with dental phobia. Dentists who specialize in treating children with learning difficulties are also beneficial. On the other hand, a dentist with a poor bedside manner will scare you away.
Exposure does not Work – or does it?
In psychiatry, doctors use a method called ‘exposure therapy’ to reduce the anxiety experienced by patients with phobias. This technique involves sitting in a room with the object of your phobia and noting your anxiety level start to fall. The idea is that your brain is only able to stay anxious for a limited time before you calm down. If you expose yourself to calming down often enough, you can eliminate the fear over time. The only area of phobias this does not work with, are blood injury and needle phobias. Since dentistry can relate to these phobias, it may or may not work for you.
How to try exposure therapy?
Go to your dentist when you do not have an appointment and just be there. Sit in the waiting room. Explain to the reception team what you are doing. See how long you can stay for. Repeat this until you feel like you can make an appointment.
Although the official verdict on hypnotism is a little murky, users report that it has reasonable success rates. Clinical hypnosis has become a tool dentists use to keep you calm while they work. Outside of a clinical setting, you can use hypnotherapy sessions to try to conquer your fear. When you are desperate you will try anything, and hypnosis might just work for you.