From the time we are young, many of us begin to fear a visit to the dentist. It is the fear of the unknown, of pain and of uncertainty, and it makes it difficult for us to interact with dental health professionals in a way that is best for our care, and gives them what they need to provide treatment in a timely, comfortable manner.
While some of our fear is rational, psychologists say that a lot of it stems from a feeling of being out of control in the dentist’s chair. The body’s natural reaction is to defend itself from attack, and the intimate nature of dental care makes us very uneasy, with no way to get relief until it is over.
Others fear the dentist for seemingly good reasons. While dentistry as a whole aims to alleviate human suffering and improve our quality of life, from time to time, procedures do not go as planned. Accidental injuries to teeth and nerves may cause pain for years, and in rare cases, may never heal at all.
So, what can we do about it? There are several ways we can work to overcome fear of the dentist. Your first and best option, if it is available, is to seek out a dental professional that specializes in treating fearful patients. These practices set up their environment to reduce stress from the very beginning, and work with patients to minimise tension during treatment.
When that is not available, here are some alternative tips:
- Take a trusted friend along to help calm you
- Try to distract yourself – ask if your dentist minds you listening music through headphones during procedures
- Talk with your dentist about treatment options that are least invasive, and which anesthetics are best
If all else fails, you may need to see a psychologist to help you overcome your phobia. They can help with suggestive therapies, hypnosis, and other treatments that can help to relieve your fear and assist you in getting the help you need.
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