It is not unusual to feel anxiety over visiting the dentist. Between 9%-20% of Americans will steer clear of the dentist due to fear or anxiety. Having a dental phobia is even more severe than suffering from general dental anxiety. With dental phobia, you may feel terrified or suddenly panicked, although you know the fear is completely irrational. If you need help dealing with dental fear or anxiety, consider the following suggestions. But first, let’s address the symptoms of dental phobia.
The symptoms of dental phobia
- Difficulty falling and staying asleep the night before a dentist appointment.
- Nervous emotions that dramatically rise while you’re waiting in the dentist office.
- Feeling physically sick or crying at the idea of visiting the dentist’s office.
- Severe uneasiness at the thought of dental instruments being put in your mouth.
Coping with your dental phobia
The key to dealing with your dental fear is having a frank conversation with your dentist about it. If you open up to your dentist about your dental fears and they don’t treat your seriously, you may need to look for a different dentist. During your conversation, talk about why you feel anxiety about your dental visits. Did you have an experience at the dentist as a child that caused pain? Do you feel embarrassment with the loss of personal space? Or maybe you don’t like the feelings of helplessness and loss of control. All of these reasons and more are legitimate and should be openly discussed with your dentist.
If your dentist knows you harbor a fear of dentist visits, they will be better prepared to make your visit more comfortable for you. For instance, you can decide on a signal, prior to your dental treatment, that you can use to notify your dentist that they need to stop whatever they are doing. This way, you can stand up and take a deep breath or rinse your mouth. Also, understanding what will happen during a dental procedure can help enormously in easing anxiety.