If the thought of going to the dentist terrifies you, don't worry; you are not alone. According to a recent telephone survey in which 7312 people were interviewed, 16.1% of Australian adults suffer from high dental fear.
Dental fear, also known as dental phobia, is so prevalent throughout the world that there is even a research clinic dedicated to its study at the University of Washington.
Unsurprisingly, dental fear leads to a delay in seeking dental treatment, which in turn causes a deterioration of oral health. Fortunately, advances in medical science mean that you no longer have to fear the dentist.
Follow these steps to overcome your dental anxiety.
Seek out a Dentist Who Understands Your Fears
It is important that you take action. Many sufferers of dental fear are so paralyzed by their anxiety that rather than research alternative methods of treatment, they go it alone, using painkillers as a means of dealing with damaged and decaying teeth.
However, many dentists nowadays understand exactly what you are going through, and are willing to offer the support you need. Start researching dentists in your area to find one that specializes in dealing with anxious patients.
It's likely that you'll find several. Call around until you find one you are comfortable with, and first discuss your anxiety over the phone.
Visit Your Dentist to Discuss Your Anxiety
For many, just walking into a dental clinic reception is a frightening prospect. However, this is an essential step as just visiting your chosen dentist and experiencing the atmosphere can go a long way towards alleviating your anxiety.
This will give you a chance to get to know your dentist on a more personal level. No longer will she be a shadowy figure lurking in a sterile, stark environment with a tray of sharp implements at hand. Instead, you'll likely find the environment to be friendly, with soft music playing, warm natured staff, and art decorating the walls.
Plan the Whole Process Beforehand
As well as provide you with a friendly and relaxing atmosphere, a dental phobia-friendly dentist will also allow you to use headphones during treatment. Choose music that relaxes you and keeps anxiety at bay. Some dentists may even allow you to watch television.
Discuss communication with your dentist beforehand unless you plan to use sleep dentistry.
Consider Sleep Dentistry
Sleep dentistry is ideal for patients that suffer from severe dental anxiety. Also referred to as sedation dentistry, this method ensures that you undergo treatment with barely any knowledge of the process. If you have a fear of needles or pain, sleep dentistry will put all your fears to rest.
Don't let dental fear put your oral health at risk. Seek out a phobic-friendly dentist in your area and follow the aforementioned steps to ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy for the long run.