If sitting in a dentist’s chair sounds terrifying, you might have Dental Phobia—or fear of the dentist! This phobia is more common than people might think, affecting 36% of the population, with 12% suffering from extreme anxiety. We say this to reassure you that there’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about if you suffer from this phobia. Whether you fear potential pain, the unknown, sensory overload, or claustrophobia, or if your fear is from a previous traumatic experience, your feelings are valid and real!
The good news is that your dental phobia does not have to stop you from getting the care that is vital to your well-being. At Boger Dental, we want every patient to feel comfortable and confident in our office. We are always honored to assist people in overcoming their dental fears. To help you get started or prepare for your next dentist appointment, we have made the following list of tips and tricks to reduce your stress levels during your visit!
But first, why do I need to see the dentist?
To encourage you to feel motivated or excited about working to decrease your dental phobia, we thought we might first explain how dentists help you!
Dental exams are crucial to ensuring the health of your teeth and gums. Your hygienist will take X-rays and photographs to document your mouth’s health and clean your teeth and gums. Next, your dentist will look for any problems such as cavities, gum disease, infections, cancer, or mouth sores, among other things.
While all of that might be scary, attending your checkups as advised by your oral healthcare provider increases the chances of finding and treating issues early before they can cause lasting damage to your smile! It could sound counterintuitive, but the more you go, the less intimidating it becomes!
At Boger Dental, we take great pride in offering our patients customized advice and care with a pain-free experience. If you experience any discomfort or have questions about your care, please don’t hesitate to say something!
How can I ease my dentophobia?
Luckily, there are ways to minimize the amount of fear you feel at the dentist. Though they might require some practice for maximum benefits, we promise that you’ll notice a difference with consistent use!
Letting your dental office know about your concerns and anxieties is the best advice we can offer you. Being honest about your fears allows the office to prepare if they do anything special for dentophobia, such as playing calming music or a TV program. Some offices even offer blankets or eye masks.
Some care providers are better suited for patients with dentophobia than others. The team could also ensure specific staff member(s) work(s) with you. Those team members would likely have more experience or be better equipped to approach your care appropriately.
Honesty with your oral healthcare provider helps with the following tips as well. Let’s check them out.
Pulling your attention away from what is causing you distress is a popular way of dealing with anxious emotions. Distractions can be a fidget toy, headphones, a stuffed animal, a stress ball, or something else!
Bringing a friend or a trusted family member to your appointment is another excellent distraction. They can talk with you when you feel stressed, or while the dental team is working so you can focus your mind elsewhere. If the treatment room is not big enough for a friend, your dentist and hygienist are probably good talking buddies, too!
Mindfulness is the practice of sitting with feelings that make us uncomfortable, such as anxiety, and trying to be okay with them. This emotional tool is a great one to master and can help you in many aspects of life, even outside a dental office!
During your appointment, you can practice mindfulness by being conscious of your breathing. One of our personal favorites is what we call “The Rectangle Method.” To do this breathing exercise, you should:
- Try finding a rectangle in the room, such as a window or a large poster.
- Let your eyes trace the edges.
- Breathe out on the long edges and in on the short edges.
If you cannot see a rectangle, try breathing in and out at four counts each. Repeat either exercise as needed.
If your dental team is aware of your anxieties, they can help monitor your breathing and remind you to do your exercises if they know your triggers or a change in your breathing pattern.
Let’s say you have your favorite stress-relieving object and have tried both talking/listening and breathing exercises, and you still feel anxious or uncomfortable. That’s okay!
Ask if you can take a break! During the break, you can do the above or other exercises. Another great distraction technique is to count objects in the room, such as the number of floor or ceiling tiles.
Remember, your dentist wants you to feel confident and comfortable in their chair! If your visit is unpleasant, you will continue to associate the dentist with scary things, which could prevent you from getting the care you need. They would be happy to give you a moment to relax. If your team knows about your dentophobia, they could offer you breaks during your appointment.
If your anxieties are strong enough, your dentist might prescribe some anxiety medication for you to take before your appointment. These medications relax you enough to get you through your appointment. You might still need to do calming exercises or bring comfort items, and that’s okay! Sometimes getting in the door is the hardest part of overcoming dental phobias, but medication can make that easier.
Depending on the medication and the dosage, you might need someone to take you to and from your appointment. Make sure you are aware of how the medication will affect you before taking it.
If an oral medication doesn’t relieve the dental anxiety to your comfort level, Boger Dental offers different levels of sedation from Nitrous Oxide to full conscious sedation dentistry. Sedation allows our patients to perhaps have all their treatment completed at one visit, while not having to be awake for the appointment.
Boger Dental Is Here For You!
Have you ever watched a scary movie that was terrifying when you first saw it, but the more you watched it, the less frightening it became? That’s likely because you knew what was going to happen.
The same goes for your dental work! The more you experience it, the less scary it will become! We can’t promise that your fear will disappear entirely, but every visit fills in the unknown gaps of dental care and helps you realize your triggers aren’t as bad as you thought.
Boger Dental wants to provide you with the exceptional care, quality of life, and oral hygiene education everyone deserves. We take pride in helping patients improve their relationships with oral healthcare. To learn more about how Boger Dental can help you overcome your fears and the care we provide, please contact us to schedule an appointment with our talented and compassionate staff.
We hope to see you soon!