There are a few different reasons people can develop a fear of the dentist. For some, it’s a bad past experience or fear of having pain. For others, it’s their loss of control or just embarrassment they associate with someone looking in their mouth. Whatever the underlying cause of dental phobia, it’s something that needs to be dealt with in order to keep up with your dental hygiene. It’s just not something that can be ignored.
Sedation dentistry can be a great solution for someone with dental anxiety, but if your fear is mild, there are things you can do to keep it in control without being orally sedated.
This is the biggest thing. You need to let your dentist know about your fear, even if it’s mild. If you have certain words or phrases that make you panic, you want to tell your dentist and their team so they can avoid saying them. Maybe you want the dentist to explain every detail of the procedure before he or she starts. Whatever your dental team can do to help you should be discussed before you get into the dentist’s chair.
There are certain breathing techniques that can help calm you down. Focusing on deep breathing stimulates the part of your nervous system that is responsible for what happens when you’re at rest. You slow down your respiratory system, then your respiratory system communicates to your brain that you’re resting, and your brain calms down. The video below gives a great example of the best way to breathe when you’re panicking.
There are some great self-hypnosis resources that can teach you how to “go someplace else” when you are in the dentist’s chair. You can try some out or you can do your best to visualize your happy place during your procedure.
Bring your headphones to your appointment and listen to your favorite tunes or an audio book. Sometimes something that simply takes your mind off of the situation is all you need.