It’s natural for you to have a fear of the dentist. Though there is no rhyme or reason as to why people have an inherent fear of the dentist (also called odontophobia), it certainly exists. Many people struggle with the idea of seeing a dentist outright, simply due to that phobia. This phobia could of course exist simply because people have a problem with the idea of giving up control, which is inherent to working with a dentist.
Furthermore, you’re remarkably vulnerable when allowing dentists and orthodontists to work on your teeth. You can’t see what’s happening when dentists and orthodontists are at work, and there is a lot of trust that is required when you allow them to begin their work. Others have had bad experiences which inspired a fear of the dentist. These experiences could date back to your first dental appointment, which probably existed when you were a baby or toddler and therefore inherently afraid of the experience.
No matter why you’re afraid of the dentist, it’s important for you to remember that there are so many reasons why you need to go. It’s a matter of health, morale, and of course appearances. But you don’t want every visit that you make to a dental or orthodontic office to be terrifying. With that being said, let’s look into some of the ways that you can cut down on your fear of the dentist or orthodontist.
1. Breathing Exercises
One of the most common techniques that people use to keep themselves calm during any scary experience is of course, practiced breathing. This might at first be a little bit more difficult to do during your dental appointment, though as long as you give your dentist, orthodontist, or dental hygienist a head’s up beforehand it should be doable. One of the best ways to calm yourself through breathing techniques is combining breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathe in through your nose while counting to six; then breathe out through your mouth while counting to eight. Though this technique might be a little tricky at first, it is a great way of making you more present in your body and less afraid.
If your fear of the dentist or orthodontist is so severe that you’re considering staying away from them entirely, this could really affect your health in a detrimental manner. After all, it’s estimated that about 91% of all Americans between the ages of 20 and 64 have at least one cavity. A cavity can slowly, over time, turn into an abscessed tooth which would result in real health risks. Therefore, it might be worth it to work with a therapist to assuage your fears and develop coping skills. Coping skills provided by therapists can vary in terms of their effectiveness. But ultimately, many find success when working with a professional, and whether you’re already seeing a therapist or specifically seeking one out to deal with this fear, it’s worth considering.
3. Talk to Your Dentist
What about talking to your dentist about your fears? This may seem to be a little awkward at first, and it’s understandable if you’re hesitant to talk to your dentist about the issue. But ultimately, there are a lot of reasons why people choose to work with particular dentists over others, and one of those reasons is often personality. The right kind of dentist probably will expect some of their patients to be a little afraid and will be practiced at putting them at ease. A good bedside manner doesn’t just help medical doctors, but dentists and orthodontists as well. And it certainly helps their patients feel more at ease.
4. Look For A New Dentist
Sometimes, you’ll find that your dentist just isn’t going to work for you and accommodate your fears. In that case, it may be a good idea to look for a new dental office. You need to work with someone that you can trust completely, and who understands your needs. Don’t settle for less, and certainly don’t settle for a dentist or orthodontist who doesn’t care about your fears.