Raise your hand if you enjoy visiting your dentist. If you are like most of us your hand will remain down. In fact, most people do not go to the dentist regularly. Rather, they wait for a dental emergency to manifest. Seeing your dentist every six months doesn’t have to be so unnerving, as long as you take the following three tips into consideration.
No Laughing Matter
The fear of visiting the dentist may have first germinated when we were children; a fear known as dentophobia. But, dentists have tried to ease these fears by giving us rewards afterward, you received a lollipop or balloon. However, much of these fearful feelings have managed to spill over into adulthood. It is estimated that between five percent and eight percent of Americans avoid dentists because of fear. To touch on the aforementioned, 20 percent of the population experiences anxiety and will go to the dentist when absolutely necessary.
Overall, anxiety prevents millions of Americans from seeking the proper preventative care. What’s the problem? This can make the situation even worse and can lead to tooth extraction, dental pain or gum disease, to name a few. Gum disease can be a serious infection that has the propensity to affect other parts of the body. Nonetheless, studies link this illnesses to diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Says Ellen Rodino, PhD, a psychologist in Santa Monica, Calif., “Fear of dentists stems not so much from the experience of pain as from the lack of control that patients experience in the dentist’s chair.” “You’re lying prone, a dentist is hovering above you, and he’s putting you in a situation where you can hardly talk or respond. That creates a lot of anxiety for some people because they don’t feel in control.”
Down To a Science
1. Many welcome distractions from circumstances that are unpleasing, being in the dentist’s chair is the same for some. How can I better cope with this? Well, you can listen to your own music through headphones. Music that was downloaded to your iPod or music stations that were created using Pandora radio should do the trick. Or, you can find a dentist that offers TV viewing and/or other pleasant distractions that are available while you are being treated.
2. If you just can’t stop thinking about the constant pain you may have to endure while in the dentists’ chair, consider speaking with your dentist about which sedatives are available and appropriate for your situation. Be aware though, that alternative options can include nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), local anesthetic, intravenous sedation and oral sedatives.
3. Breath in, breath out. You can try relaxation techniques to help you deal with your dental dilemma. By taking a big breath, holding it and letting it out slowly, you will slow your heartbeat and relax your muscles, too. One more technique is progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups.
As Easy as 1, 2, 3
Since the job of your dentist is to not only keep you coming back, but to make you feel at ease, you should know what will allow you to feel relaxed. Keep the following practices in mind that some dentists observe:
• Some dentists allot time for breaks, as requested by the patient;
• Many carefully explain what you will feel and for what period of time;
• Dentists may encourage you to stop the procedure at any time, if you feel uncomfortable (some suggest that you raise your left hand);
• Often dentists ask you for permission to continue.
Proactively Protecting Your Teeth
How many times a day do you flash that winning smile of yours? The fear of going to the dentist is one of the most common fears there are, but going to the dentist can’t be avoided if we want to keep all 32 teeth intact. Regardless of when this angst developed, it does not have to continue. Yes, that’s right! It is possible to relieve some of the distress that you many have experienced over the years. Open wide!