Everybody is afraid of something. For certain people, it’s spiders (arachnophobia) or bees (apiphobia) or even high places (acrophobia). For others, extreme dental phobia (dentophobia) is the thing that scares them, that keeps them far away from the dentist’s office.
The thought of the dreaded chair, the screech of the drill, the unbearable sucking sound of the vacuum tube; it’s all enough to trigger a fight or flight reaction that keeps many people away from the dentist.
If that sounds like you, you’re not alone. According to StudyFinds, 60% of adults experience extreme dental phobia and therefore avoid regular checkups with their oral health provider. The trouble is avoiding the dentist can actually make things worse in the long run.
Regular checkups allow your provider to detect, treat, and even prevent oral health issues. If things like cavities or gum disease go untreated, they can result in infection, pain, and even costly extractions. Because there’s an ongoing connection between oral health and overall health, your dentist may even be able to detect other health concerns as well.
With this in mind, here are some tips to curb your extreme dental phobia and get you in for your regular checkup:
Find a dentist in your area that is practiced in handling patients with dentophobia. You’re not alone in fearing this situation, and many dentists will have experience dealing with your concerns. If you need a certain procedure done, take the time to look into the processes involved so you understand exactly what to expect.
Reach out to your provider ahead of time to discuss what you dread about the office and the overall experience. This allows you to work together on creating an approach that works for both of you while also putting your mind at ease. If you’re scheduling a procedure, talk to your dentist about what that entails so you can prepare yourself.
Don’t book an appointment during a busy week at work or school or when you have other stressful life events occurring. Make sure you know how to get to your appointment and give yourself plenty of time to arrive. Reduce pesky distractions and additional stress points so you’re ready to go when you get there. If you need to have a calming massage beforehand, by all means treat yourself.
Control your breathing
Focused breathing is used in yoga and meditation and can help you when you’re feeling anxious or worked up. Take the time to control your breathing with slow, natural breaths.
Distraction is a good technique to keep your mind off what you fear most. Consider bringing music to listen to or a book to read while you wait. If there’s a television in the room, find something engaging and mentally stimulating to help you through your appointment.
If all of this seems like too much, you can always find a provider that practices sedation dentistry.
Check out our blog for more ways to reduce stress and extreme dental phobia.