Oral health is a vital part of your overall health, but the tricky part is that most people are avoiding regular dental calgary checkups since they are less or more afraid of them. The fear of dentists is very common, and usually, it is a result of emotions related to worries over your oral health or potential bad experiences you may have had earlier.
However, for some people, these fears can grow in the form of dentophobia, an extreme fear of going to the dentist. Fear of the dentist should never hold you back from regular checkups and cleanings since keeping your teeth in check is very important.
Getting over the fear of dentists is not as simple as it sounds, but today I will go over some of the most common causes and treatments, and coping mechanisms that can help you conquer this problem once and for all.
Fear Or Phobia?
Fear and phobia are two different states of mind. Fear is a strong dislike that usually causes avoidance, but you won’t think about it until the thing you fear presents itself. On the other hand, a phobia is much stronger, and it is considered as an anxiety disorder that causes avoidance and extreme stress.
When we talk about going to the dentist, being fearful means patients dislike going to the dentist and always put off appointments until they become inevitable and necessary. They also dislike the feel and the sounds of the instruments used during cleanings and other procedures, but they are able to put up with them without a big fuss.
In the case of dentophobia, patients experience such a severe fear that they avoid the dentist altogether, and even when someone mentions the dentist, they get in a state of anxiety. Panic attacks are also very common.
The causes and treatment for both fears of dentists and dentophobia are similar, but dentophobia will need more time and work to be cured.
The best remedy for mild fears of dentists is actually going to the dentist regularly instead of avoiding it. If there is a need for significant dental work, ask to be sedated so you’re not awake during the procedure; this is not a common practice, yet if you are aware that you are afraid of a dentist, find a dentist who will fulfill your wishes.
In case you have a phobia, you may require a combination of therapies and medications.
Exposure therapy is a type of psychotherapy and one of the most effective solutions for dentophobia since it involves seeing the dentist on a more gradual basis.
The patient will first visit the dental clinic without any examination done to simply chit-chat with a dentist and try to relax and see them as a regular human being and not someone who desires to hurt them.
Then patients will gradually visit the dentist more often to do, for example, a simple X-ray; after that, the next step can be cleaning until they become comfortable to take on a full appointment and intervention.
Medications can’t treat dentophobia on their own; they must be combined with exposure therapy if a patient is extremely anxious. Certain types of anti-anxiety medications will alleviate symptoms such as high blood pressure.
Tips To Stay Calm
When you decide you are ready to face your fear and you start with exposure therapy, these next following tips can help you stay calm during your appointment:
Make sure you see the dentist at a less busy time of the day, like in the morning, since there will be fewer people, which means fewer tools making noises that can put you in a state of anxiety. Also, if you decide to see your dentist later in the day, you will build up fear and pressure during the day caused by anticipation.
Music will always help in relaxing, so bring noise-canceling headphones or earbuds
Do not go alone to your appointment; ask a friend or a family member to accompany you and help you overcome the fear
Deep breathing and other meditation techniques will help you calm your nerves
If you need a break during your appointment, it is okay to ask for it, so establish some signal with your dentist ahead of so he or she will know when to stop
As already said, oral health is very important since it greatly contributes to your overall health; this fact is still not enough to make some people actually get their things together and visit their dentist or orthodontist.
Most people are not aware that constant avoiding of the dentist will only increase their fear and make simple issues grow into great problems. If you or someone close to you is experiencing fear or phobia of the dentist, start working on that problem asap.
It will take some time and effort, but it is necessary to do so since your health is always a priority number one.