Many of us have a great, debilitating fear of going to the dentist. Most of the time, these feelings of uneasiness stem from an unpleasant experience from our younger years, or an episode that was triggered by a dental-related incident. We often hear our patients express considerable anxiety during the very first phone call. I can wholeheartedly relate to their sentiments through my own childhood memories. I grew up in Russia, where dental care in the 1980s was a dreary conglomerate of a cold, sterile facility combined with a substantial and conspicuous lack of comfort commodities, including an almost complete absence of dental anesthetics.
Thankfully, these days are long gone, and today’s practices are serene, pleasant, and all efforts are aimed at ensuring full patient comfort during treatment. Despite the modern advances, many of us are still haunted by the past – so below are some ways in which you can ensure that your visits are a lot more enjoyable – and, quite possibly – you may actually learn to love your trips to the dentist!
Understand your fear.
Knowing and being able to define your fears is the first step in overcoming them. Whether it is a fear of discomfort during or after treatment, the noises, smells, seeing the dental instruments and the bright shining lights – know what it is that causes your anxiety – this way you can effectively communicate them to the doctor and the team – and certainly a lot of accommodations can be made to address many of your concerns.
Talk to your dentist.
Communication is the key to a successful long term relationship! The more your doctor and their team know about your prior experiences, the easier it will be for them to make an extra effort to ensure your full comfort. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – they are there to care for you, so speak up and let them know your thoughts.
Choose the right practice.
Visits to the dentist should be as comfortable as possible! Many of our patients actually tell us that they now enjoy coming to see us – and we consider that the greatest compliment! There are many ways that modern practices establish patient comfort – including providing dark glasses to protect the patients’ eyes from water and bright lights, neck pillows, warm blankets, movies and TV to keep you entertained during treatment, and comfortable private rooms to keep all noise to a minimum. The doctor always provides a detailed explanation of all procedures, and takes the time to comfort the patients so the patient remains in control of their treatment at all times.
Use mindfulness techniques.
While at the office, finds ways to distract yourself and take your mind off the dentistry. Wear headphones or watch a movie. Try to keep your thoughts focused on visualizing yourself in a happy place, and imagine relaxing at the beach or in a beautiful garden. Take deep breaths and count them, inhaling and exhaling slowly. Concentrate on keeping your muscles relaxed, one body part at a time.
Oral hygiene and regular dental visits are the key to preventing dental disease! In the absence of disease, your dental visits will include regular check-ups and enjoyable, relaxing cleanings! Chances are, you will look forward to seeing your dental family and leaving the office feeling fresh, clean, and sparkly white!