If you are a victim to the fear of dentists, also known as dental phobia, or dentophobia, you don’t have to suffer alone. Leaving it as it is will not help as eventually you will need to visit a dentist one day, either for extractions or to get dentures or other treatments, so why not make it a pleasant one rather than one that requires chains to strap you down or putting yourself into a deep sleep before any treatment can be performed on you?
How can you or your dentist help overcome your fear:
1. Dentist do not intend to cause pain
Keep in mind that dentists do not have it in their agenda to purposely cause pain. It is quite the opposite, as a pain-free experience benefits both the patient and the dentist. The dentist can carry out his work without any interference, and the patient will go home a happy man, and he might just help by promoting the “it’s-not-as-scary-as-you-think” dental visit to others, to dissipate the myth that all dentists are scary.
2. Visit a dentist often and good oral hygiene
Most people do not bother visiting a dentist, either because they’re afraid of them, or they think dentists overcharge. If the only time you go to one is when you have toothache or abscesses or swelling, it would most likely be an unpleasant visit, which then enhances your dislike for dentists, and this becomes a cycle of a process. It is better to instill the habit of frequent dental check-ups from young, for that is the age when one decides whether he or she likes or despises a dentist. Maintaining good oral hygiene also decreases the chances of any discomfort related to your teeth; this indirectly affects how you perceive seeking the services of a dentist.
3. Find a dentist you can trust
Seek a dentist with whom you can discuss all your concerns, the risks n benefits of certain procedures, and most of all, can help with your fear. Let your dentist know what you are afraid of, what makes you uncomfortable, or what eases your anxiety.
4. Your rights as a patient.
Keep in mind that your dentist cannot force anything on you. You have a right to say “NO!”, and the right to be informed about your alternatives and the pros and cons of each choice. Of course it would be advisable to listen to your dentist’s recommendations before making your decision rather than rejecting anything and everything even before it is suggested.
5. Distraction technique
Some dental set-ups have music played in the background, or a TV set in front of the patient to keep the patient’s mind off the dental procedure. You may also bring your own songs to listen to.
6. Gaining control
Most dentists will grant you the control over the entire process by asking you to raise your hand or make a noise when you are experiencing pain or sensitivity, or if you need to take a break from opening your mouth for too long.
7. Pharmacological method: Sedation and GA
Sedation includes oral sedation, inhalation sedation, and intravenous sedation. One common example of inhalation sedation is with nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), which is inhaled through a mask worn on the nose. The patient is still conscious and able to respond to verbal commands, but can experience a freedom from his past fear and apprehension of the dentist. This allows the dentist to perform procedures more effectively. Sedation techniques will make you feel drowsy, but are different from general anesthesia, which puts you into a deep state of sleep, and has side effects which may last for hours after the surgery. Nevertheless, general anesthesia can be considered for long procedures such as extracting multiple wisdom teeth.
8. Tell-show-do technique
This technique was originally developed for anxious children, but it can also be used in nervous adults. Basically is it a technique in which the dentist explains what he will be doing (tell), shows how he will be doing it out of the mouth so that the patient can see (show), and then only proceeding with the treatment (do).
9. Relaxation techniques
Relaxation therapy such as diaphragmatic breathing and progressive muscle relaxationmay be helpful in patients who are unable to cope well with their anxiety even after several methods above have been attempted.
Hypnosis or self-hypnosis enables you to relax, but this is effective only in some individuals.