Healthcare professionals recommend visiting the dentist twice a year. Yet, many ignore this suggestion simply due to a phobia of visiting them. Rather than suffer, we’ve listed nine techniques you can easily implement to overcome this fear.
1. Interview Yourself
One of the key factors to overcoming your fear is to know exactly what you are afraid of. To do this, take some time to think about why you don’t want to go. Is it because you’re afraid of what the dentist will say? Or, did you have a painful experience?
2. Challenge Your Fear
Once you know the source of your phobia, you can begin to counter it with a positive experience. For example, instead of thinking about a painful cavity, think about how great you felt after the cleaning was over. Focusing on the positive outcome of going to the dentist can help you forget about the negatives.
3. Tell Others
Once you understand what you’re afraid of, write it down and share it with others. Begin by talking about it with trusted family and friends. Let them know what you’re afraid of, so they can help you with the discomfort.
Once you book an appointment, it is also good to share your fears with the dental staff. Advising them ahead of time will allow them to prepare. If they know, they can implement strategies to mitigate your stress (such as slowing down a procedure, or talking you through it). Remember- the dentist doesn’t know your fear, so it is up to you to tell them!
4. Test Out a Few
There is no need to book an appointment with the first doctor you find! Book a consultation prior to an appointment. This will let you see how comfortable you are with a particular clinic. If you don’t feel comfortable with a doctor…simply move onto the next one! Being in control of the situation will certainly help to calm your nerves.
5. Bring a Friend
Once you’ve booked an appointment with your dentist, it is important to take someone along. This person should be aware of your fears, and be willing to help you through it. Also, if someone is there to hold you accountable, you’ll be less likely to cancel the appointment!
6. Communication is Key
While in the dentist chair, communication shouldn’t end. Be sure to talk with the staff during the procedure. Don’t be shy if something is bothering you. The dentist is there to help you – not harm you. If something is hurting, or you need to take a break – let them know.
7. Distract Yourself
It may be hard, but try and think of anything besides the procedure. Close your eyes and focus on your breath and relaxing your body. If that doesn’t work, try bringing in some media to distract you. Put on your favourite playlist, and try to focus on the song lyrics. Or, bring a tablet in to put on a movie.
8. Treat Yourself
Having something to look forward to while sitting in the chair is an easy way to get through the appointment. You’ll be tricking your mind into thinking about the reward, rather than your fear.
9. Take it Slow
Book appointments gradually. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much, or you will end up exhausting yourself. Unless it’s a serious medical issue, book them at your own pace. Knowing that you are in control of the appointments will help to alleviate some anxiety about the next one.