Fear of the dentist can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because you're afraid of the dentist, you put off appointments for way too long, so then when you finally do go to the dentist, you need more work than you would otherwise and end up having a very uncomfortable experience. Instead of putting off appointments, a better approach is to proactively work on overcoming your fear of the dentist by following these tips:
Take Your Time Finding the Right Dentist
For many fearful dental patients, the key to overcoming their fear is finding the right dentist. Take the time to read reviews and ask friends and family for dentist recommendations. If possible, choose a dentist who specializes in treating fearful patients. Before you make an appointment, consider calling the dentist office to ask any questions you may have. Some patients will even make an appointment for a free consultation, just to meet the dentist in person, see the office, and decide if it's a good fit. Look for a dentist who helps you feel comfortable.
Most dentists will allow you to bring headphones to your appointment, and some will even provide them for you. You can load up your phone with soothing music to help you relax, or an engaging podcast or audio book to distract you during your check-up. Having something to listen to will give your brain something to focus on other than what the dentist is doing, and it will help make your appointment go by faster.
Look into Sedation Dentistry
Some dentists who specialize in helping fearful patients offer sedation services, even for routine dental appointments like cleanings and check-ups. Gentle sedation can help you feel deeply relaxed during your appointment. You will need to discuss this option with your dentist to make sure it is a good fit for your unique needs and your overall health. You will also need to arrange for someone to drive you home from the appointment.
See a Professional If Necessary
If your dental fear is so extreme that you think it may be an actual phobia, or you have extreme anxiety keeping you from ever making a dentist appointment, you may need the professional guidance of a psychologist or psychiatrist. They will help treat the underlying issues contributing to your dental fear and provide treatment options.
By finding the right dentist and actively working to overcome your fear, you will soon have a healthy smile and reduced dental anxiety.