Does the sound of the dentist’s drill make you cringe? Does the sight of the needle make you scared and nervous? If so, you’re not alone. Fear of the dentist, or in more severe cases, dental phobia, is the main reason that many people avoid the dentist. The problem with avoiding dental care is that small problems can soon require major dental treatment! Here are some tips that can help you overcome your fear of the dentist.
Do Some Research. Not all dentists are sensitive to the needs of fearful patients. Ask friends, family members or co-workers about their dentist or if they know of a dentist who has an interest in treating patients who are anxious or fearful of dental treatment.
Check the website. Once you identify a dentist you think is a good fit for you, check the dentist’s website. See if there are testimonials of fearful patients or other information that can help you learn more about the dentist and dental office you are interested in.
Look at reviews. Patients that have had a good experience with a dentist in overcoming their fear will often mention that fact on a review site online. Genuine and heartfelt reviews are usually authentic and can give you a sense of what it would be like to be treated by that dentist.
Send an email. In some cases, it may be helpful to contact your prospective dentist by email. Let him or her know about what experiences you have had in the past that has made you afraid of the dentist. A caring and confident response can go a long way in helping you develop a level of rapport prior to your visit.
Schedule a consultation. Set up a consultation with the dentist. Explain your fears, and listen to what he or she has to say. Meeting the dentist in person can give you a comfort level with the dentist before you begin treatment.
Know what scares you. Before a dentist can help you, he or she has to know what triggers your fear of the dentist. Be open and honest about what scares you so the dentist knows how to approach treatment with you.
Ask for topical. Strong topical gels are available that can numb the gum to a significant degree that you can barely feel the needle.
And buffer too. In the last few years, new technology has made it easy for dentists to add sodium bicarbonate to the anesthetic to buffer the solution. This makes injections more comfortable and the anesthesia work better.
Something to take the edge off. Nitrous oxide gas is very helpful in getting some patients to relax. Highly anxious patients can also benefit from a mild sedative like Xanax prior to treatment.
Squeeze the bear. Don’t laugh, but sometimes I bring out a stuffed animal for a patient to squeeze if they are feeling anxious. The Dental Comfort Zone bear has come in handy over the years in getting patients past their fears.
Dr. Jerry Gordon can be reached at (215) 639-0571. Comments, questions, and second opinions are available at The Dental Comfort Zone, 2734 Street Rd. Bensalem, PA 19020 (across from the Giant supermarket). To learn more: www.dentalcomfortzone.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org