Overcoming Fear of the Dentist

Mar 6, 2023 | Family Dentistry

The dentist can be a scary place. With all the sounds, tools, and fear of pain, it is no wonder why some people avoid getting a routine cleaning! However, fear of the dentist can have serious consequences on your oral health, causing you to neglect important treatments that are necessary for healthy teeth and gums. Understanding where your fears come from, how to address them, and ways to overcome your fears is crucial in maintaining your oral health. Fear of the dentist should never stand in the way of you getting your checkups and cleanings. At Salling and Tate Dentistry, we are here to help you every step of the way!

Fear or Phobia?

It’s important to understand the difference between dental anxiety and a phobia. While both can be equally paralyzing, the strategies for overcoming them are different. A phobia is a more extreme reaction that is irrational and out of proportion to the actual danger. It usually involves a strong physical response such as shaking, heart palpitations, or tense muscles. If you struggle with a phobia of the dentist, you may benefit from cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), relaxation techniques, or even hypnosis to help you manage your fear of the dentist. On the other hand, fear is a normal and rational response to something that you perceive as frightening or dangerous. It’s important to remember that fear can be managed and even overcome with the right strategies.

What is Dental Anxiety?

When the fear of going to the dentist takes over, it can lead to dental anxiety. This anxiety can be so severe that some people will avoid professional dental care altogether and only seek treatment when they have serious problems or an emergency. The longer you go without professional dental care, the more likely it is that your teeth and gums will develop serious health issues.

Dental Anxiety can lead to…

  • Unaddressed cavities
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth loss
  • Oral pain
  • Infections

Because your oral health is so important, it’s crucial to understand the methods of overcoming the fear of the dentist in order to receive the necessary treatments.

Talk over your fears.

The first step is to talk about your fears with your dentist or dental team. Being open and honest will help them understand why you are afraid, so they can develop a plan that works best for you. You may also find it helpful to ask questions during appointments or take someone you trust with you.

Get your questions answered.

Talking over your questions and concerns with your dentist is crucial in easing your fears because you will be more aware of what’s to come. One of the most common questions or concerns is about pain. It is normal to worry about pain before going to the dentist. However, advancements in modern dentistry mean that treatments can be done safely and with little discomfort. Talk to your dentist about any concerns you have and make sure you are properly informed about what will happen during the visit.

Find the right dentist for you.

Finding a dentist you trust and are comfortable with is very important. Ask friends, family, or your primary care doctor for recommendations and read reviews online to help make an informed decision. When meeting a new dentist, don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out if they have experience working with patients who have dental anxiety. At Salling and Tate dentistry, we care for our patients like family, and we understand your anxiety. We strive to foster a stress-free and relaxing environment, and get your teeth to optimal health! Don’t hesitate to call us today to discuss the questions you may have.

Practical Tips to Overcome Your Fears of the Dentist:

  • Take deep breaths: Deep breathing exercises can help you relax when feeling anxious or overwhelmed. Taking a few slow, deep breaths can help you stay calm and focused on the task at hand rather than worrying about the potential outcomes of your appointment.
  • Reward yourself: Rewarding yourself after successful visits can be a great way to motivate yourself for future appointments. Treating yourself with something special—like your favorite snack, movie night, or time spent with friends—can help you feel more relaxed about the dentist and encourage you to keep up with your oral health care routine.
  • Visit the dentist in the morning: Scheduling appointments for the morning can help you feel more relaxed about going to the dentist. By starting your appointment early, you get your visit out of the way first thing, it leaves less time to stress throughout the day. 
  • Listen to music or use distraction techniques: Listening to calming music or using distraction techniques such as counting backward from 100 can also be helpful in distracting yourself from feelings of anxiety or fear. Additionally, music will also drown out the noises and help you stay relaxed.
  • Seek professional help: If your fear of the dentist is severely impacting your ability to receive necessary treatments, it may be beneficial to seek professional help from a psychologist or therapist. Talking to a professional can help you develop coping mechanisms for managing your fear and anxiety. 
  • Scheduling Regular Appointments: Another important step in overcoming the fear of the dentist is scheduling regular appointments. Regular visits will help get used to being at the dentist’s office and make sure any problems are caught early on and treated quickly. This will help reduce the chance of anything serious happening and make each visit less intimidating.

Oral Health is Important.

Remember that oral health is important, and impacts your body’s overall health greatly. Regular visits to the dentist can help prevent bigger issues down the road. Keeping your mouth healthy will improve your overall well-being, so it’s important to make sure you don’t let your fears keep you from getting the dental care you need. Overcoming your fear of the dentist isn’t easy, and it will take time. But, with the right dentist, support system, and mindset, you can take charge!

We’re Here to Help!

At Salling and Tate Dentistry, we recognize that going to the dentist can be a scary experience. That’s why we strive to make your visit as comfortable and stress-free as possible. From our cozy waiting room to our friendly and experienced staff, we are devoted to providing a positive dental experience for all of our patients. Contact us today to schedule an appointment, answer any questions, or learn more about how we can help you overcome your fears of the dentist. We look forward to meeting you soon!