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Overcoming Dental Phobias

Afraid of going to the dentist? You're not alone! Dental phobia is a common fear that drives otherwise-sensible people to postpone dental visits and neglect their oral health until small problems become costly emergencies.

What causes dental phobia?

Almost always, the fear of dental vists stems from an unpleasant experience. In overcoming the fear and getting your tooth care back on track, it's important to find a dentist who is competent, caring, and skilled at working with fearful patients.

So how do you find a great dentist?

  • Word of mouth (no pun intended!) - ask friends and family for recommendations.

  • Look for a dentist who specializes in working with anxious patients

    Don't have any good resources in your area? Try a referral service like 1-800-Dentist . They can match you up with a dentist who specializes in treating fearful patients.

  • Interview prospective dentists. If possible, meet with the dentist before any work is done. Talk about your dental history, your fears and past experiences. Does the dentist appear sympathetic and caring? Do you feel confident after speaking with them? If this meeting doesn't go well, continue your search until you find a dentist better suited to your needs.

  • If you go to a dentist and are unhappy with the service or treatment you receive, discuss the issue and your concerns. If things cannot be resolved to your satisfaction, find another dentist.

Things you can do during your visit to ease your anxiety:

If you don't want to change dentists but your current practitioner isn't especially prepared to deal with your fears, here are some things you can do:

  • Talk to your dentist before procedures. Understanding exactly what's going to happen and how it will feel is a big part of overcoming your fears.

  • Relax - While in the chair, try to relax your whole body. Starting at your toes and working up, tense up and relax one area at a time.

  • Distract - Some dentists have headphones and TV for their patients. If yours doesn't, see if you can listen to music on your portable MP3 player during the visit.

  • Imagery - What's your favorite place on earth? Where do you feel the happiest and most relaxed? Close your eyes and imagine you are there. The more details you can picture in your mind, the more effective this technique is.