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Somewhere between 9% and 20% of Americans don’t go to the dentist because of fear and worry.

If you think about it, that means this problem is pretty common in our society. Some people don’t like going to the dentist, but others have more severe concerns.

Overcoming dental fear is possible and there are simple things that you can do to help yourself feel better mentally and physically.

To learn more about what can be done for dental fear and anxiety, keep reading! We have 5 tips to help you before your next dental appointment.

Why Do People Suffer from Dental Fear?

It is normal to be a little worried before going to the dentist or to any type of doctor. The problem, however, is if you are preventing yourself from going to the dentist due to fear, anxiety, or phobia.

When you don’t go to the dentist as often as you are supposed to, your oral health is impacted.

The fear you experience from going to the dentist or even thinking about the dentist can be related to specific instances. Usually, people relate the thing they fear with other things that they don’t like.

Some of the events or experiences that may trigger fear in people are:

  • Past experiences at the dentist – If you’ve had a bad time at the dentist in the past, it will make you worry much more about future visits. This is true with any type of doctor! 
  • Pain – Some people have low pain thresholds and it can be scary to think about all of the things that could potentially cause pain at the dentist.
  • Feeling of helplessness – It can be jarring when you’re on the dental chair and don’t have a lot of control over what’s happening. This can cause a little bit of a panic.
  • Shame or embarrassment – When people let their oral health go and they know the dentist is not going to be happy, they may feel apprehensive about letting the dentist look in their mouths. 

Difference Between Fear, Anxiety, and Phobia

There are different levels of discomfort that people may have with the dentist. Fear, anxiety, and phobia are all distinct from each other.

Dental fear is when you think that danger is present. By going to the dentist in Lakewood, you are scared that something bad is going to happen because of a past experience or otherwise. It may trigger a fight or flight reaction.

Dental anxiety is being worried about something. You’re not sure how to feel about it, so you are nervous. This is the most common type of worry, but when it makes it debilitating to go to the dentist, it is a problem.

Dental phobia is the most severe type of discomfort with the dentist and it is more a feeling of dread. You may become panicked when you even think about the dentist or considering treatment. Typically, phobics will only seek dental treatment when there is no other option available.

5 Tips for Overcoming Dental Fear

Most people don’t like going to the dentist, but some people really don’t like it. If you’re someone that absolutely fears the dentist, check out these 5 tips that may help you in the future!

1. Choose the Right Dentist for You

When you have dental fear, you have to find a dentist that knows what that means. In fact, there are dentists that specialize in working with individuals that are scared or anxious about treatment.

After selecting a few possibilities, you could call or have a friend call to ask about this. Think about how the staff treats you over the phone and how comfortable you feel.

The next step is choosing a Lakewood dentist that you think you’d be able to visit in person. Even just going into the dentist office to make the appointment instead of doing it on the phone will help you get a better sense of their operation.

Your fear or anxiety is not something to take lightly. If a different dental office seems to dismiss it or says you should not be worried, they probably aren’t the best option for you.

2. Find Out Why You Are Fearful

Realizing you are scared or anxious is part of getting over it.

Start to understand why you are feeling the way you are. What specific fears do you actually have? Talk about this with your dentist before you even go in for a treatment.

When the dentist knows what is bothering you so much, they can help you come up with strategies that will make you more comfortable in the future.

3. Start Using Relaxation Techniques

One of the great things about relaxation techniques is that they are completely free and are things you can do on your own. Doing these types of activities before or during your dental appointment can help you with your negative feelings.

The reason that this is recommended for dental fear is that it is meant to help keep you calm. When you are calm during treatment, you won’t get as much anxiety because you are focusing on other things.

A simple technique that you can try is deep breathing. Focusing on your body and how it feels helps you become more mindful and relaxed.

4. Distract Yourself During Appointments

If relaxation techniques aren’t your thing, you can distract yourself. Bring something to do that will take your mind off of what is happening during the dental treatment!

Think about the things that you do at home that you could bring with you.

It could be a book you enjoy reading, a movie you would like to watch on your phone, or even a fidget device. Things that distract you and don’t irritate you are what you should consider.

5. Bring Someone to Support You

Some people feel that having a friend with them in stressful situations can be helpful. If you bring someone with you to your appointment, you may be a bit more assured by their presence. 

In some offices, it is appropriate to bring someone with you back into the actual dental treatment room.

Since this is what most people have fear or anxiety about, look for an office that would allow this if you think it would help.

Visit Your Dentist Today

As you can see, overcoming dental fear is a possibility for anyone that suffers from anxiety at the thought of the dentist.

If you’re interested in what you should expect at your next dental appointment, check out our blog post on that very topic! It may help ease your mind just to know what is going to happen when you get to our office.