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Terrified of the Dentist? Here’s How to Overcome Your Fears

If you’re so scared of the dentist that you’re feeling a little uncomfortable reading this post, you’re not alone. As much as 10 per cent of the population are estimated to be so terrified of the  dentist that they will avoid going even when they are in pain. While lots of people would rather do something else than attend a dental appointment, the fear we’re addressing today is not a passing one. At SCR Clinic, we know the difference between someone who isn’t too fond of the dentist and someone who breaks out in hives at the mention of a check-up.

Lots of people have anxiety about different things. Often our fears are labelled as irrational, but they can stem from a very real bad experience from the past. We want you to know that we understand that your fear of the dentist is as real and justified as the next person’s fear of flying or drowning.

When a fear gets so bad that it impacts on your life and well-being, it’s time to do something about it. If you’re holding your mouth in agony while reading this and hoping the pain will just go away by itself, your dental phobia is getting the better of you – and we’d like to help.

1. Identify the Root of Your Fear

People are terrified of the dentist for many different reasons. For some people, it’s the thought of an injection or a drill being used in their mouth. For others, it’s the whole environment with the
clinical setting, the smells, tastes and feel of hands digging around in your mouth. Other people are scared about having someone even look in their mouth because they’re embarrassed about their teeth or dental health. Then there’s the fear of how much the treatment is going to cost.

Which of these is closest to the reason you’re afraid of the dentist? It might even be a combination or something else entirely. Once you know what triggers your fear, we can set about addressing it.

2. Start Slow & Be Patient

If you’ve been terrified of the dentist for years, it’s not going to magically go away overnight. You can overcome these fears for once and for all, but it will take time and commitment. Make a
promise to yourself that you’re going to start chipping away at your fear and that you will stick with it, even when it gets tough.

3. Talk to Your Dentist

Your dentist and dental team are the first place to turn for support in overcoming your fears about the dentist. I know it sounds like going into the dragon’s lair and asking them not to hurt you!
Honestly, though, dentists aren’t dragons and we don’t want to hurt you. When you let us know that you are not just nervous but extremely anxious, we can address it with you.

As dentists, we can explain everything that we are going to do before it happens so that there are no surprises. We can also put plans in place so that if you need to take a break, we can do that.
There may be options like dental sedation which can make the process easier for you. We will discuss those with you too.

4. Plan Your Visit

Find out everything you need to know before your visit and plan accordingly. If you haven’t been to a dentist in a long time find out where you need to go, the last thing you need is the stress of
being late or getting lost.

Ask a friend or family member to come with you. You shouldn’t feel embarrassed about this. No doubt they have their own fears and when they understand that this is important to you, if  they’re free, they’ll happily accompany you.

Have a rest afterwards. If possible, plan to go home and rest. Even if you don’t need a rest physically, you may need one mentally. Facing your fears is hard work so go home and put your feet up for a while you deserve it!

5. Reward Yourself

Once you’ve recovered from any treatments you’ve had, give yourself a little reward. Rewards act as positive reinforcement, they give us a reason to go through challenges. You might work
hard all year for the reward of a lovely holiday. Or go on a diet to experience the reward of fitting into your favourite dress- why should the dentist be any different? Identify a reward that you will give yourself every time you visit the dentist and take another step in overcoming your fears of the dentist.

6. Start a New Dental Routine

Ask your dentist for guidance on how to practice a good dental routine at home. This might involve making slight changes to your diet, introducing flossing, or changing the way you brush your teeth and how often. Add your dental visits into your new routine. By scheduling regular visits, you will keep on top of your dental health and minimise the need for invasive treatments. In time, visiting the dentist will become second nature.

7. Explore Other Options

If, with the best will in the world, the previous steps haven’t been helpful in overcoming your dental phobia, it might be time to explore more options. These can include positive visualisation, hypnotherapy, dental sedation or counselling. While the first two options use the power of the mind to help you overcome your fears, dental sedation involves being put under a light sedation during your dental visit so that you don’t need to experience all of the sensations involved in a dental visit. Counselling provides an open environment where you can express your concerns and resolve them with the help of a professional.

Only you know what is right for you.

Ultimately, this is about your health and well-being. If you continue to be terrified of visiting the dentist your oral health will suffer and the mouth is a key part of the body. If it’s not healthy, this can lead to further health problems and complications.

At SCR Clinic, we want to help all our patients maintain optimal dental health and so we strive to maintain a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Whatever your concerns are, we’ve heard them before. Remember, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about! If you let us know about your dental phobia then we will do our very best to help you overcome your fears.

You can take the first step by giving us a call and letting us know what’s happening for you. We’ll have a chat and take it one step at a time, letting you guide us. You can call us on 01 - 454 9688, we look forward to speaking with you.

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