It is estimated that between five and ten percent of all people have a fear of going to the dentist which prevents them from maintaining adequate oral hygiene. Interestingly, most people associate this kind of fear with an aversion to pain, but more accurately people are generally suffering a fear around loss of control which is much deeper rooted because most dental procedures now are virtually pain free.
When you think about it more closely, going to the dentist for what many people think of as the most painful procedure like a root canal is actually the end of the pain, not the beginning. Generally, people who require a root canal have been coping with pain previously and normally in a single session with accompanying pain relief, the pain is gone.
With all of that said, the bigger question is, how do you overcome these fears and cope with the situation?
There are a few small things you can do to help relax yourself before and during a trip to the dentist’s chair that will make the whole process much easier.
If possible, bring someone you trust with you on your first visit to the dentist. Have them sit with you in the waiting room and keep you company while you wait. Having people near us who we trust in stressful situations makes it easier for us to cope. Instinctively, our closest friends and family will also do their best to reassure us that everything is going to be fine. Telling the dentist of your fears can also often help alleviate them. They are used to dealing with clients who are anxious and they may be able to help you through it.
A simple way to relax yourself is to spend the time to listen to what your dentist is saying to you before the procedure. This can be hard because of the emotions you’re feeling, but a good dentist will take the time to walk you through what they’re doing and answer any of your questions. In a situation where you fear a loss of control, asking the right questions and knowing what’s to come is calming and reassuring.
Distractions can be helpful as well. Bring in your phone and listen to music while the dentist does his work. Many dentists actually have set up televisions placed in strategic locations (such as attached to the ceiling) so you can watch during procedures. If you can find something that allows you to take your mind off the situation you’re in, then coping becomes much easier.
One of the best things you can do is to learn a few relaxation techniques and practice them when you settle into the chair to have the work done on your teeth. The most important relaxation strategy you can employ is to remember to breathe deeply and in a controlled manner. Controlled breathing is a proven way of slowing your heart rate and relaxing your muscles.
Don’t forget that your dentist is a trained professional. Whether you’re just going for your regular check up or having a procedure done, your dentist will do the utmost to put you at ease, explain the processes and techniques involved, and make sure you are comfortable at all times.