1. Recognize your fear
That is the start to being able to take steps to overcome your fear
2. Trace your fear
Try to discover why you have a fear of going to the dentist. Was it a negative previous experience at a dentist's? Is it a general fear of medical treatment?
3. Know you are not alone.
Numbers of what percentage of the US population is afraid of going to the dentist varies but it is significant.
4. Know that Dentistry has come a long way.
Now, visits are virtually painless due to improved technology, early diagnosis of conditions and decades of emphasis of preventive care and regular 6 month checkups.
5. Research dentists
Ask friends and family about their dentist and find out if the office sounds like it could work with you to create a positive and comfortable experience.
6. Spend time talking to the staff
When you call an office, see how much time the staff spends listening to you. Get a sense of how compassionate they sound.
7. Make an appointment to visit the office
Instead of scheduling a treatment visit, ask to come in to meet with the dentist and the team. That will give you an opportunity to ask questions and help you get familiar with the office and their protocols. This will reduce stress at subsequent visits
8. Start slow
Go for short appointments/preventive care/minor procedures in the beginning. It will help build trust and tolerance; both these factors will decrease anxiety
9. Take your headphones with you
If you have a playlist that helps you relax, take your head phones with you so you can 'just let go' while in the chair
10. Consider anti anxiety medication
After a thorough discussion with your dentist, she/he may suggest prescribing a low dose of an anti anxiety medication for your first few visits so you can get comfortable with being in the office and dental chair. This will in many cases be enough to get past your fears and take you to the point where it is not necessary.
The most important thing to do is communicate honestly and openly about your fear and anxiety about dental visits with your dentist. A competent and compassionate team is well equipped to help you through the process of receiving oral health care and actually get you excited about your visits with them.
We have seen that happen first hand with many of our patients and it gives us a sense of great accomplishment when we see them smile and enjoy all the benefits that go along with a healthy life style.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us. It would be our pleasure to help you receive the care you deserve.
Be well, Do well, Live well
Until next time,
Sunita Merriman, DDS