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Direct Dental Plans of America, Inc.

Direct Dental Plans of America

What to do When You're Afraid to Visit the Dentist

If you are afraid to visit the dentist, you might be suffering from dental anxiety. Many people suffer from a fear of the dentist.

It’s important to not let dental anxiety keep you from scheduling necessary dental appointments. Skipping regular dental check-ups and necessary dental work can lead to serious, and possibly preventable, dental problems.

Before trying to determine the best way to combat your fear of the dentist, it can be helpful to figure out why you have dental anxiety in the first place. Many people develop a fear of the dentist gradually, and others become afraid of the dentist in a relatively short period of time.

To help realize the cause of your fear, as yourself these questions:

  • Did you have a negative experience at the dentist’s office when you were a young child?
  • Did you have a dental appointment at any point in your life that caused you intense pain?
  • Are you afraid of intense pain, even though you may have never experienced it in the past?
  • Are your teeth and gums in poor condition, and you don’t want a dentist or dental hygienist to see how they look?
  • Do you feel afraid when you see dental tools or hear the noise that a dental drill makes?

Handling Dental Anxiety
The manner in which you choose to deal with your dental anxiety should depend, in part, on the severity of your issue. You might have a mild fear of the dentist. In this case, you might be able to struggle through your appointment without much distress. If your fear, however, can be classified as stronger than “mild,” you might want to try one or more of the following tactics:

Find a dentist who has experience with fearful patients. The last thing a person with dental anxiety want is to see a dentist who does not display compassion or concern for your fear. A dentist with a calm and soothing demeanor is one that might be the most helpful. Make sure to be open and honest with your dentist about your anxiety. If your dentist is experienced at working with fearful patients, he or she should be able to put your mind at ease by providing suggestions on how to keep your fear under control.

Learn cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. Cognitive behavioral therapy involves re-training your brain’s way of thinking. With proper technique, you might be able to use cognitive behavioral therapy to ease your fear of the dentist. It may be necessary to consult with a licensed professional counselor to learn how to use cognitive behavioral therapy to your advantage.

Consider nitrous oxide, oral sedation, or other types of medication that can put your mind in an altered state during your dental appointment.If you are suffering from a severe dental anxiety that is preventing you from seeing the dentist for either a routine dental visit or necessary dental work, this might be your only option. Healthy teeth and gums are important, and if nitrous oxide, oral sedation or another type of medication is the only way you will consider scheduling an appointment with your dentist, make sure to discuss this with your dentist or doctor.

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