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Let’s face it—the majority of people do not enjoy going to the dentist. Many people avoid regular dentist visits out of fear. If you are afraid of the dentist, avoiding your six-month checkup is actually the worst thing you can do. Regular dental checkups can help your dentist identify problems early, saving you time, money, and anxiety in the long run.
Although dental phobia is prevalent among many children and adults, everyone’s fear is different. Whatever your dental fear may be, your dentist is here to help you through it.
It is important to identify your fear to know how to combat it.
Common Dental Fears
1. Fear of Pain
For years, dentistry has been (wrongly) associated with pain and discomfort. However, new technology and dental techniques have made it so many dental procedures are pain-free.
For example, a root canal has always had the reputation of being an extremely painful procedure—one that many people dread. Thanks to new technology and local anesthetics, most people feel no pain during a root canal.
The procedure is now more boring than it is painful.
2. Fear of the Needle
Trypanophobia, the extreme fear of needles, is a common fear among many people. Many dental procedures require the use of an injection by a needle to administer local anesthetic.
Having a needle in their mouth is a person with trypanophobia’s worst nightmare. There are many ways to combat your fear of needles at the dentist. Many dentists use a numbing cream on your gums before injecting the needle. This makes your injection virtually painless.
Additionally, many people say that by closing their eyes and using the numbing cream, they do not even notice the needle or know that it is happening. Sedation dentistry is also available for people whose fear keeps them from relaxing at the dentist.
3. Fear of Having Lack of Control
When you are at the dentist, it may seem like you have no control over what is going on. You are laying back in a chair, with people hovering over you, and tools in your mouth. This lack of control can create a lot of anxiety.
If you are worried about having a lack of control in the dental chair, let your dentist know. Together, you can come up with ways to make you feel more in control. This may mean coming up with a safe word or hand motion to let your dentist know you need a break or are experiencing discomfort.
4. Fear of the Drill
Many dental procedures, such as a routine cavity filling or a root canal, require the use of a dental drill. Even though these procedures are painless with the use of local anesthetic, the sound and look of the drill can cause fear and anxiety for many patients.
If the drill is something that is causing your fear, speak with your dentist. If your dentist is aware of your fear, he will know how to treat you better. Additionally, music can help drown out the sound of the drill. Many dentists recommend bringing headphones so that you can listen to your favorite music instead of the dreaded sound of the drill.
5. Fear of the Sounds
Dental offices are home to many unfamiliar and disturbing sounds. They may seem scary, but many of the sounds come from ultrasonic scalers (used in regular dental cleanings), dental vacuums (used to suction away water and saliva), and the dental drill.
It is important to identify what these sounds are to better understand your fear. Again, headphones are a useful tool in drowning out the sounds of the dental office to help you feel more at ease.