It is all too common for a person to develop a fear of the dentist. However, it is very difficult for people to understand why exactly they fear the dentist! Here, we try to uncover the true reasons behind the far reaching phobia. We then outline some ways that you can help yourself to overcome the fear itself.
What Causes a Fear of the Dentist?
Dental phobia or 'odontophobia' can be an overwhelming anxiety to deal with. This is not helped by the fact that in order to stay healthy there is a need for sufferers to constantly confront their fear. There is no simple way to avoid visiting the dentist. This means that the only solution is to find a way to overcome your phobia. So how can this be done? Well, we first need to ask a key question... Why do you fear the dentist? It is thought that most phobias manifest themselves early on in an individual's life. This can be through some kind of traumatic experience or by seeing another go through a difficult experience. When you are younger and have a more immature mind, you are much more accepting of unusual thoughts. This makes it easier for phobias to develop during those earlier years. As we grow older, the incident that caused the phobia is most often forgotten but the fear itself is leftover as scar tissue.
How Can You Beat Dental Phobia?
The most common method of overcoming phobias is exposure therapy. This involves facing the fear itself enough times to teach your brain that there is truly nothing to fear. In time you will have developed enough reference experiences to back up the idea that the dentist is not such a scary place after all. Although exposure therapy is a proven technique that will work wonders for your anxiety, it is easy said than done. Let's go through a few options that will help you start building up those positive reference experiences of visiting the dentist.
How can you cope with being exposed to your fear of the dentist?
There are many things you can do to make your experience of visiting the dentist much easier to cope with. The first is to remember why you are going. You are visiting your dentist to keep your teeth healthy. The dentist is there to HELP you. To make sure that you will still have a full set of teeth in a years time. Remembering this and realising the huge benefits will give you the motivation to turn up to your appointments in the first place. After visiting your dentist you will be thinking, 'that wasn't so bad'. It is important to remember this feeling for the next time your dental appointment approaches. Remember that it wasn't bad at all the last time you went and so there is no reason that it should be a tough appointment this time.
Here is a great concept to keep that voice inside your head as quiet as possible. As soon as you feel anxiety starting to build up a series of fictional consequences that are massively unlikely to happen you should find a way to distract yourself.
A very simple form of distraction is to use a stress ball. By squeezing the life out of this little sponge you will be diverting the attention away from your mind. This technique is even used in child brith. Although, the stress ball is most often replaced with the father hand in those circumstances!
Listen to Music:
Music is a brilliant distraction because it is so easy to get lost in. You can pop in your earphones and listen to a nice relaxing playlist or you can even start playing some heavy metal to get you mind out of the dental room entirely. Now, it depends when you start to feel anxious as to when it is best to start distracting your mind with music. Many patient's start to get the itch as they are sat in the waiting room with nothing to do than think about the impending doom that awaits inside the dental surgery. If this sounds like you then it is suggested that you do something to occupy your mind the second you sit down in that waiting room. But make sure you are aware enough to notice when you are being called in by the dental staff! There are also many dental phobia suffers who only start to feel apprehension as they sit in the dental chair itself. If this is you then that is the right time to make sure you are plugged in to a musical dreamland. In many cases, your local dentist will have a system in place for your to plug in your own music. If this is not offered at your local private dentist then it will be fine for you to listen to your own music in your mp3 player or smart phone.
Talk About Your Fear...
As a final note we strongly recommend that you talk to others about your fear. It is far too common that a person bottles up their fear and let's it get progressively worse over the years. We find that talking with loved ones and friends about your phobia can unravel many great conversations. You will find that so many other people have a fear of the dentist. So many people also got through that anxiety and will be able to give you great advice as yo how you can help yourself overcome dental anxiety too. You should also consider talking it through with your dentist too. Who better to chat to than a professional who deals with sufferers of dental phobia on a daily basis. Your dentist will have a great insight as to why you feel the way you do and how you can overcome your fear of the dentist!