Dental fear is a very common fear that leads people to avoid the dentist. Dental fear most commonly comes from unpleasant past experiences, or from horror stories that have been passed from one person to another. One common misconception is that all dental procedures are painful.
The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with your dentist. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, they will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable.
If lack of control is one of your main stressors, actively participating in a discussion with your dentist about your treatment can ease your tension. Ask your dentist to explain what's happening at every stage of the procedure. This way you can mentally prepare for what's to come. Another helpful strategy is to establish a signal -- such as raising your hand -- when you want the dentist to immediately stop. Use this signal whenever you are uncomfortable, need to rinse your mouth, or simply need to catch your breath.
Here are some more tips to try if you have dental anxiety,
Try to distract yourself while in the chair
Bring headphones to keep your mind occupied and focused on something else
Try relaxation techniques – take deep breaths and let it out slowly
Watch a movie (at our office) while the procedure is being done
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.
Brian Y. Kuo DDS FAGD