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5 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of the Dentist

5 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of the Dentist

Does the thought of visiting the dentist send you into a panic? You’re not alone. While it’s hard to get people to admit to it, some studies estimate that more than 70% of adults feel anxious about visiting the dentist. For some, this anxiety is much more pronounced; it manifests itself as an overwhelming fear, known as odontophobia.

Studies estimate that 1 in 10 adults experience a strong fear of dentists. Their fears are so strong that they actually avoid dentist visits. Dentist Dr. Jeremy Rourke, with over 25 years of experience, said in an interview: “Unfortunately, dental-phobia is something we see lead [to] thousands of dollars worth of care annually that could have been avoided if people came in more often.”

If you experience fear or anxiety when faced with the idea of going to the dentist, there’s good news for you. You can tackle the fear head-on for the benefit of your health. The following are some techniques and strategies to help you overcome your fear of the dentist:

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Acceptance

The first step in overcoming your anxiety is accepting it as normal. There is no reason for you to feel embarrassed. There are millions of people who experience the same anxiety.

It is also important to accept the fact that dental visits are necessary for maintaining your dental and overall health. Routine visits to the dentist are necessary to avoid, detect, and treat tooth decay, gum disease, and other serious conditions such as oral cancer. You can avoid extensive and invasive dental procedures by ensuring that you visit the dentist regularly to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy.

Thinking along these lines will help calm your fear of your dental visits.

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Find a friendly dentist

Ensuring that you find the right dentist is a step in the right direction. Dentists are people, too. Visit the dentist and have a chat with them. Becoming familiar with your dentist will help you to develop trust, which in turn will help to reduce your levels of anxiety. It will also help you feel at ease with the dentist and make it easier to relax during the procedure.

Communicate your fears to your dentist. They will be better able to provide you with the care you require when they understand your anxieties.

Understand the Procedure

Knowledge is power. Understanding what the dental procedure involves will help you better prepare yourself for it. Many people experience fear of dentists because they do not know what to expect. Their anxieties are heightened by the fact that they are not in control of the procedure.

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Knowing what will happen beforehand helps to keep the anxieties at bay. Understanding what is being done and why it is being done will help you prepare mentally for the procedure. Try researching things like “does a root canal hurt” to get a sense of what you’re in for. Often you’ll find that the procedure is not as scary as you thought. Finding testimonials from dentists can also help.

Talk to your dentist about the procedure. Ask them what you should expect and how long it will take. Ask if the procedure can be carried out gradually. Having the procedure carried out in shorter and more manageable units may help in overcoming your anxieties.

Consider Sedation

More patients are opting for sedation as a means to overcome their anxiety of dental procedures. Sedation is a great option for those who suffer from severe anxieties. Sedation allows you to relax during the procedure with the help of a sedative that is administered orally, intravenously or as a gas (nitrous oxide, aka laughing gas). You may also opt for a combination of these.

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Sedation allows you to be awake but deeply relaxed. In many cases, you won’t have any memory of what happened during the procedure.

It is important to talk to your dentist and determine whether this is the best option for you. Ensure that you choose a dentist with experience in sedation dentistry if you’re thinking of this option.

Seek Support

You may need some support and help to quell your fears of the dentist. One way is to visit the dentist with a family member or friend you trust and who will give you emotional support. You’ll feel safer with someone you trust nearby. Having a familiar person nearby in an unfamiliar environment will go a long way in quelling your fears.

Your fears may also stem from something deeper. It’s therefore a good idea to seek some professional help as well. Seek a therapist or psychologist who is experienced in treating phobias and fears of different kinds. They will help you establish the source of your fears and provide you with methods of treatment that help you overcome them.

Ending Your Fear of the Dentist

Fear of the dentist is not unusual. It isn’t a laughing matter and you shouldn’t feel ashamed about it. It’s a real phobia that afflicts millions of people all over the world. However, avoiding the dentist is not the answer. Seek ways to face and overcome your fears for the sake of your health.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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