Many people actively avoid going to the dentist. A visit to the dentist seems to awaken some strange, deep-seated fears in people. People hate going to the dentist so much that many wonder if dentists hate them back. Thankfully, dentists don’t hate us. Sadly, anxiety surrounding dental visits prevent a lot of people from getting the oral care that they need. There are so many reasons that people give for their anxiety surrounding visiting the dentist. Some people feel ashamed that they’ve let their teeth get so bad. Sometimes, people are just scared because dental procedures are sometimes quite painful. Going tot he dentist can seem to be a voluntary exercise in medieval torture. The instruments, the long needles, the probing and seemingly judgmental questions, and the discomfort caused by having someone’s hands up in your mouth for long periods of time… What we can say for certain is, very few people rank visiting the dentist as one of their most pleasurable experiences. In this article, we will discuss how to stop avoiding the dentist.
The foundational action that you should take to relieve your anxiety and make your visit to the dentist a more pleasurable or at least tolerable experience, is to communicate your anxieties. There’s no point suppressing your anxieties from your dentist, because these anxieties will lead you to avoid visiting the dentist or prevent your dentist from doing what they can to make your visit better. The simple act of communicating your anxieties will reassure you that your needs will be catered for. This alone will reduce your anxiety. Be specific and tell your dentist what your fears are in every detail. This way, they can tailor treatment to you and stagger treatments to suit your pain threshold and anxieties. Many dentists, such as Dr. Hal N. Arnold, are aware of their patients’ anxieties and will include questions about dental anxiety in their intake forms. They want to help you feel better and get through this.
Another thing you can do is to practice relaxation exercises and try to distract yourself. Many people suffer from dread and anxiety even before they have started on their way to the dentist. As the day for their dental visit approaches, the dread and anxiety rise and many people simply freak out and don’t go for their appointment. You have to catch yourself in these moments and practice exercises to relax yourself or at least distract yourself. Deep breathing exercises are very useful in this regard. You could also try visualization exercises to prepare yourself for the visit and imagine how you will successfully get through the visit. Some dentists will allow you to listen to music on your air pods or headphones, throughout your visit. Other practices even have TVs so you can watch a series or movie while your dentist gives you the smile that you deserve. You can also try mantras. They can be very helpful. You can say to yourself, “This is only for two minutes! I can survive anything for two minutes”. Repeat that and you can get through anything.
Remember that the dentist is there to help you. Speak to your dentist and help them help you make your visit anxiety free.