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How to Manage your Fear of the Dentist

As a child of the 1950’s in England I experienced what today would appear quite barbaric dental treatment. Sure it was nowhere near as bad as it had been for previous generations, but neither was it anything like as good as today. For many years I was absolutely terrified of the dentist or as I called him ‘The daytime frightener’

Finally I have overcome this fear but it took a lot of time and rationalizing. I am still not keen on visiting the dentist but I go and have my treatment, nowadays, without too many shocks and fears. Some of this is down to finally growing up and more importantly the improved dental care we all receive.

However some of it is being able to rationalize your fears. If your foot was in excruciating pain, going black and decaying you would get to your doctors as fast as your good foot could carry you, wouldn’t you?. However for some reason many people who are afraid of the dentists will try to ignore a tooth doing the same things, in exactly the same circumstances. Both would be painful and could cause serious infections so why would you ignore either?. I wonder if it’s that feeling of being vulnerable laid back in the dentist’s chair, almost feeling at his mercy, that makes many avoid a dental appointment as if it were the plague. Of course these days too it is also expensive but I do not really think that comes into the equation for our fear of the Dentist.

To aim to manage your fear of the dentist try to:-

Talk to the dentist and express your fears. Many modern surgeries offer sedation for those with serious dental phobias. Sometimes discussing treatments with your dentist and feeling as if you are included and have a choice in your treatment can be helpful.

Maybe speak to your doctor about the possibility of taking medication, perhaps herbal, to calm you down before any treatment.

Try hypnosis. Many phobias are treat well with hypnosis. Fears can be vastly minimized or can even vanish altogether.

Try relaxation techniques and breathing exercises whilst visiting the dentist. The fact that you are concentrating on this can take your mind off any worries.

The main thing which you need to do is to relax and stay as calm as possible. If you are panicking you will always feel some pain. Try to rationalize your fears and get them into perspective. Always have regular check-ups. If you don’t visit the dentist for quite a while you will be more frightened the next time you do so. This could be because you needed so much treatment the next time or had just gotten out of the habit. If you do this your fears can escalate again.

If you try some, or all, of the above advice sooner or later you should be able to put your fears in their correct place and visit the dentist in relative calm, much as we all do. Although overall I would say that most people do not relish a visit to the Dentist but they accept it as a necessary part of life.