When you think about visiting a dental office, what comes to mind? Is it the screech of the dental drill which is a sound feared by many? If the thought of going to the dentist makes you nervous, you are not alone! In fact, millions of Americans are so scared of the dentist, they don’t bother to go.
Baby boomers seem to have an even higher occurrence of dental phobia. Older adults may not have benefited from the widespread use of fluoride, which these days helps keep people out of the dental chair for non-preventive procedures. It’s likely that Baby Boomers have many more cavities than their children and grandchildren. Much of their dental care took place in a different era—before improved technology and techniques, which help patients relax today.
While dental phobia is very real, it is important to see a dentist at least once a year, even if you’re nervous about a visit. If the health implications aren’t enough to make you defeat your dentist dread, the following tips may help you get past the anxiety:
1. Realize that your fear can be overcome. Fear is a learned behavior; therefore, it can be unlearned.
2. Never be embarrassed. Millions of Americans share this same fear, so you shouldn’t feel silly discussing your anxiety.
3. Find a dentist who understands your fears and who will help you feel comfortable. Talk to family and friends about their dentist to see if their dentist might be a good match for you.
4. Schedule your dental appointment during a time when you aren’t rushed or under pressure.
5. Find a distraction. For example, bring a portable audio player so you can listen to music during your visit. This will also help drown out the sound of the drill, whether it’s being used on you or in the room across the hall.
6. If your anxiety is extreme, talk to your dentist about pain control medications and sedation dentistry.
Why not make an appointment to see your dentist? If he or she understands the anxiety you’re facing, it is easier to do something to help you feel more comfortable.