Keeping up with your dental care is an aesthetic and health choice that should be full realized. However, phobias are real, and if those anxieties are keeping you away from dentists, it’s a smart choice to get a handle on it.
What’s your problem?
Every dental phobic person is not the same. Try to be cognizant of your presenting issues, since the particular fear you have may be far different than someone else’s. Here are some examples:
The primary reason folks who avoid the dentist avoid the dentist is pain. Some people, through genetics and/or insufficient dental hygiene, have sensitive teeth and gums. So a normal cleaning can be uncomfortable. In that situation, your dentist can offer numbing solutions and sedation that help a lot. However, you’re in more control than you may realize.
Psychologists, for example, recommend deep-breathing and meditation techniques before and during a dental visit. Moreover, it’s important to discuss what your fear may be. Needles? Well, perhaps what you’re there for doesn’t involve needles. In other words, communicate with your dentist and be conginscent.
Some people need more personal space than others. Having someone work on your mouth for an hour is just overwhelming. In extreme cases, there may be issues with claustrophobia. More often than not, it’s just a basic discomfort. Again, communicate with your dentist and hygienist. Let them know you will likely need more breaks in between the cleaning process so you can breathe deeply and freely.
Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is also serious. This is something beyond having had a bad experience at a different dentist. This is a condition that can be paralyzing. You should be talking with a medical doctor (psychiatrist) or psychologist to find coping mechanisms, and your dentist should be a trusted confidant for you. Accommodations can be made, even if that accommodation is an understanding conversation before dental work begins.
Do you empathize with Howie Mandel when he rejects handshakes and hugs in favor of light fist bumps? Then you may be a germ-phobe. The good news is your dentist’s office and equipment is as clean as clean gets. Dentists and their staff are well-trained on the best sanitization practices. You should know it’s your right to ask about sterilization procedures and in-office processes. The answers will likely put you mind, and mouth, at ease.
Stinky breath? Not-so-pretty teeth? Lots of patients are just plain embarrassed to show their mouth to their dentist. News flash: We do this for a living! Dentists have seen (and smelled) it all. Our job is not to judge but to treat. Really, try and let that sink in. We’re not looking at you wondering if we’d date you. We’re looking how to get you to feel confident and healthy. We’re on your team. #wingman