A trip to the dentist. For many people, it’s right up there with the fear of public speaking or spiders and snakes.
Did you know that approximately 20% of adults in the U.S. avoid going to the dentist strictly from fear – the fear of needles, pain, anesthesia, being embarrassed or anxiety over encroachment into their personal space.
- For some people, the frightening thought of a dental visit is all but impossible to cross off their “to do” list. They may intellectually know that their fears are irrational, but they are so absolutely terrified and panic-stricken that they may become physically ill at the very thought of spending time in a dental chair.
- Many older adults fear the dentist because of an unpleasant childhood dental experience – when dental procedures were painful, office ambiance was non-existent, and patient comfort was not the dentist’s priority.
If you fall in the “frightened” category, here are a few tips that just may help ease your fear:
- Ask about medications – Anesthesia today is much more effective than in years past. Discuss with your dentist the many possibilities for a more comfortable and calming dental visit.
- Use your hands – It’s impossible to talk with a mouthful of dental instruments. Before your procedure, speak to your dentist about how you will communicate any discomfort or pain you may feel.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to your dentist – If you are nervous about a procedure, talk with your dentist about it. It could be that the “unknown” is what you fear, especially if it has been many years since you last visited a dentist.
- Create a mental distraction – Think about something else; let your mind wander. Listen to the radio on your mobile device. Tune in and tune out!
- Take a breath and a break – During a long dental procedure, anxiety can build and you may begin to feel claustrophobic. If you feel, at any time, like you need take a break, let your dentist know.