Afraid of the Dentist?
Do you yourself feel anxious before a dentist appointment? Have you ever put off seeing a dentist even though you needed one? Have a child who cries when going to the dentist, or worse, refuses to go? Well, these are signs of odontophobia, or fear of going to the dentist. Anxiety about going to the dentist is fairly common and can manifest itself in many ways. For a lot of people, the main feeling is nervousness that produces symptoms like sweating, racing heart or shortness of breath. Usually, that feeling dissipates as the usually painless procedure and supportive dental staff help melt away the anxiety. After all, dentists are trained and experienced at handling anxiety that their patients may feel. For others, odontophobia is a more deep-seated fear, perhaps based on past experiences with a dentist or in a medical setting. It could also be related to claustrophobia, or a fear of being in an enclosed space, as you find yourself confined in a chair in a strange place with people in white coats and lots of strange machines around. Even though we intuitively know this is all meant to help us and not hurt, it is not easy to shake off these feelings unless you have prepared ahead of time to lessen them. Unfortunately, people with serious odontophobia often put off going to the dentist, waiting until their dental trouble is even worse, which in turn makes the dentist office experience more stressful. Odontophobia is a serious situation for adults and children and it impacts not only their dental health, but their overall health, as the spread of bacteria from poor dental health can cause damage elsewhere in the body. For kids, fear of the dentist is often just a fear of the unknown, especially if this is their first visit to the dentist. For some children, especially after the recent pandemic, being in a strange new place in a medical setting can result in anxiety. Letting a dentist perform even a gentle dental exam requires trust. It’s vital to help your child, or anyone exhibiting signs of odontophobia, to learn to trust their dentist and understand that the process is both painless and rewarding.
Overcome your Fears
If you have anxiety about an upcoming dental appointment, don’t worry. There are a number of ways to make the experience easier.
- Choose a dentist you feel comfortable with. Ask how they help patients be more comfortable, like taking breaks, or providing music or TV screens. If for any reason you were not feeling good about your last appointment with a dentist, it’s ok to look for one that is a better fit for you. It happens all the time.
- Realize that today’s dentistry is not your grandma’s dentistry. With new technologies and procedures, most procedures are now completely pain free and faster than ever. There’s a lot less to be anxious about. Read about the advances in dentistry to learn more.
- Telemedicine is very common these days, and it’s great for dental appointments as well. Make a teledental appointment with your dentist ahead of your visit so you can speak with them from the comfort of home. With a teledental app like GoodCheckup®, you can talk with the dentist face to face on your mobile device. Get to know them and see if their communication style is one that helps you feel better. You and the dentist can also discuss the upcoming appointment and they can help you understand any procedures that will be performed. GoodCheckup® is free and easy to use, and it’s a painless, simple way to ease anxiety related to an upcoming dentist office visit.
- Plan your day. Before your appointment, get a good night’s sleep and engage in low stress activities. Have your favorite calming cup of tea before leaving for the dentist. Prepare a playlist of your favorite tunes on your mobile device that you can listen to while waiting for your dentist, or bring your favorite book to get lost in.
- In the car before entering the dentist, close your eyes, relax your face and body and take a series of slow, deep breaths. Breathe out with your mouth slightly open. Your body will naturally destress with this short exercise.
- If you find yourself still suffering from severe anxiety over an upcoming appointment, during your teledental appointment, ask your dentist about sedation options. They may have options for mild sedation that will make your visit easier for you.
Preparing Your Child for their Dental Appointment
Many children naturally fear the dentist. Their anxiety may range from nervous curiosity to outright terror. Parents should plan to deal with their child’s anxiety based on the child’s unique needs and personality, and begin the process well before the appointment day. Your child’s early experiences can influence their dental care habits for a lifetime. Get your child off to a good start by introducing them to the dentist early and in a place where they are comfortable. GoodCheckup® teledental app is a great way to have your child participate in a dentist appointment that won’t be a scary experience. For kids scheduled to go to the dentist for the first time, a preliminary dental visit on the app great way to introduce them to the dentist and the concept of a dental exam. The fun, easy app connects your child and their dentist in a casual friendly session that will help your child feel comfortable. And, with GoodCheckup®, the dentist can actually take a look at your child’s teeth, talk with them about what a dental exam involves and answer their questions. And, you can use the app anytime for emergencies, follow-up care or just for questions you or your child may have. It’s a great way to help your child learn to like their dentist, develop good dental care routines and avoid developing the anxiety of odontophobia later in life. Odontophobia can be beat. Today’s technologies in the dentist office and with teledental apps make it easy to like the dentist. Make GoodCheckup® a regular part of your dental care program and feel better about the dentist. Download the free app today and sign up for fast and affordable dental visits that make dental care easy.