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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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