If you ask people how they feel about going to the dentist, most would likely respond saying they dislike it. While there’s a certain level of apprehension that could be considered normal, heightened levels of anxiety can prevent people from scheduling appointments and affect their dental (and overall) health in the future.
Odontophobia, or fear of visiting the dentist, is a serious problem. Research has shown that anywhere from 5-8% of Americans completely avoid the dentist out of fear, and another 20% have enough anxiety to only seek treatment when absolutely necessary. There are a number of reasons this fear can exist, but some of the most common are: loss of control, pain, embarrassment, or past experience.
While the level of fear will vary from person to person, there are a few common things you can do to help ease your mind.
1. Find the right dentist
One of the best ways to overcome your fear of visiting the dentist is finding a dentist you can trust. This may take some time, but it’s worth it. While you can look to family and friends for recommendations or read reviews online, it’s important to remember everyone’s experiences (and expectations) are different. Try giving the dentist a call – if you’re comfortable talking on the phone with them, you can consider scheduling an appointment to meet them and get a feel for the office.
2. Communicate your fears
If you don’t make the dentist aware of your fears, they won’t be able to work around them and help you feel more comfortable. Just like any other relationship, communication is key to success! By being open and honest about your concerns throughout the process will help ensure the right steps can be taken to address them.
3. Bring a companion
Whether it’s a friend of family member, having someone accompany you to your appointment can help you feel more relaxed. It acts as an extra layer of assurance. You’re best off bringing someone who doesn’t have any fears of their own. An added tip: schedule your appointment early in the morning so you don’t spend time dwelling on things beforehand throughout the day.
4. Use distractions and relaxation techniques
From stress balls to music to breathing exercises, there are a number of “distractions” you can try to keep your mind focused on something other than your fears. Even something as simple as watching a feel-good movie or video can help!
5. Reward yourself!
Overcoming a fear of the dentist is a big deal. When do you do, treat yourself! Buy yourself something nice or go on a weekend getaway. Not only is a great reward, it’ll also help you relate your visits to something fun and exciting.
Dr. Abbey and our staff at Lakeshore Family Dentistry truly care for our patients and want your experience to be fun and positive. You will leave forgetting that you were anxious walking through the door! You can even stop a procedure any time you are feeling uncomfortable or need a break. Don’t neglect your oral health – make that appointment at our Milwaukee dentist office today!