I haven’t been to the dentist for quite a while because I am really nervous about going. I know I could sleep through the visit with sedation, but I’m nervous about that, too. Do you have any suggestions to help me overcome my fears?
James, Baton Rouge
Kudos for trying to conquer your fears! To want to overcome your fear of the dentist is a big step. There are many who feel the same as you about dental visits. That fear may stem from different experiences, but there are many things you can try to help alleviate it.
- Find a dentist who “caters to cowards.” This has become a catchphrase for a dentist who takes particular care of those who are afraid of the dentist. These dentists will give you the extra attention and help you need because they understand how real that fear can be.
- Do a “happy visit.” It may sound silly, but many dentists will have new patients and children come in for a “happy visit” or an introductory visit. This is a visit where you meet the dentist and his staff, become acquainted with his office, and get a feel for what a regular visit would be like. It may help to get to know the people who will be assisting with your dental care when you aren’t in pain.
- Ask questions. If you are wondering what a particular tool is, ask. If you don’t understand what the dentist is suggesting, ask. You will feel more comfortable with work that needs to be performed if you understand what is going to happen, why, and how.
- Sometimes it can be the sounds at the dentist’s office that are uncomfortable. If this is true for you, ask if they have headphones at their office that will either block the sounds or will allow you to tune into a television show or music. If not, don’t hesitate in bringing some from home.
- Bring back-up. Having someone that you trust or care about at your appointments can be comforting. Invite someone to be with you if that would help.
- You mentioned you are nervous about sleeping at the dentist, but nitrous oxide may help without putting you to sleep. It is a mild sedative that will help you feel very relaxed and comfortable in the dentist’s chair. You would still be awake. This may help in your initial transition going back to the dentist until you are comfortable with your visits.
No matter what you try, give youself time. It will probably take a few appointments to ease back in and to build trust in your provider. We wish you luck and a healthy smile!
This article is sponsored by Generations Dental Care in Enfield, CT.