How To Get Over Your Fear of the Dentist
Dental anxiety or fear of the dentist has been something I have struggled with my entire life. I have consciously avoided the dentist on various occasions because of it. To the detriment of my dental health. This time because of a dental issue I was forced to go to the dentist after two years of avoiding it. And it was one of the best things I ever did for myself. Not just for the health of my teeth, but also in getting over a fear that has affected me for so many years. Last week I had dental surgery. A root canal and wisdom tooth removal. All at once. And I didn't freak out. I made it through with flying colors and I felt so proud of myself. Since fear of the dentist is something I know many people struggle with I wanted to share with you all what I did and the steps I took to help me get through the process and make it a positive experience.
Find a Dentist You Like and Trust
This is the number one thing that helped alleviate a lot of my anxiety. I like my dentist. I like her and I got good vibes from her during my first visit. I have had many dentists over the years and I can count on two fingers the ones that I actually felt comfortable with. And those dentists were the ones who didn't poo poo my obvious anxiety but understood and worked to help make me feel more comfortable. Dental work is no joke and just like with any other doctor you want to find someone who you can communicate with, who you feel is knowledgeable and who you trust to do the work.
Read up on the Process
Before my visit, I read up on what a root canal actually entails. I had never had one before and it sounded scary and intense. So I Googled it. And what I read actually put my mind at ease. It wasn't as scary as it sounds. And knowing that helped me mentally prepare and know what to expect when I sat down in the dentist chair.
Think Ahead in Regards to Pain Management
Taking a couple of ibuprofen a few hours before your visit can help with any pain you many experience during your visit. A lot of dentist actually recommend doing so. So if you are worried about pain I highly recommend doing so.
Eat a Good Breakfast
If your visit in scheduled in the morning, I highly recommend eating a good filling breakfast. Chances are after your visit you won't be able to eat for several hours and depending on the type of work you get done, you may not be able to eat anything other than soft foods. So get all the good stuff in while you can. Plus you will be nice and full and satisfied and won't have any hunger pains during your visit.
Bring a Stress ball
Yup. A stress ball. I had the genius (IMO) idea of buying one and bringing it with me to my visit. And it was an awesome idea. My dentist even complimented me on it. Anytime I felt tense or my nerves got the best of me I squeezed. Having an object to channel that energy into was fantastic. I do know that some dentists even provide stress balls for their patients during visits, so ask ahead of time if yours does. If not - bring your own!
Listen to a Podcast
This is the second thing I did that helped tremendously during my visit. I recommend a podcast over music because with a podcast it forces you to pay attention to what you are listening to - as opposed to the sounds of drills or other dental instruments. It literally takes your mind off of what is going on. If your visit is especially long like mine was pick a podcast that you know runs that length of time. And pick something that you know you will find engaging. I listened to a true crime podcast.
Wear comfy warm clothes
This may seem unimportant but wearing something loose fitting, warm and comfy will make it easier for you to lay in a chair for however long you have to. I wore a loose-fitting jumpsuit that is like a kid's onesie and feels like pajamas with a quarter-length sleeve t-shirt so that my arms would be covered. Doctor's offices are notoriously cold and that goes for dentist's offices as well. The body can't relax if it's cold. So throw on your favorite hoodie or sweatshirt. Whatever makes you feel cozy and comfy.
All of these worked together to make my dentist visit a positive one. I was so proud of myself at the end and even my dentist told me she was proud of how well I did!
I hope you found these tips helpful. If you have any tips or tricks that helped you get over your fear of the dentist, let me know in the comments!