Many people experience some level of anxiety when they visit with a dentist, but when it goes beyond anxiety and turns into genuine fear, you need to take some steps to manage it. Avoiding the dentist outright isn't something that you should do, as it will put your oral health at risk. However, what options does that leave you with? Surprisingly, you might feel much more comfortable with the dentist if you know exactly what to do.
It's a Genuine Condition
First things first: keep in mind that there's a difference between mild anxiety at seeing the dentist and genuine fear and dread. If you feel like you're so scared of seeing a dentist that it stops you in your tracks or prevents you from actually making that appointment, then you need to know that you likely have a dentist phobia.
No one is entirely certain why some people develop phobias and others don't. But you may have a dentist phobia if you had a bad experience in the past or saw something traumatic when you were younger.
Don't Force Yourself
If you have a genuine phobia, just forcing yourself to go to the dentist isn't enough. This is likely to just make you feel worse, as you'll be stressed out and anxious during the entire visit and you may be mentally beating yourself up over it. But you can't just will yourself out of having a phobia, so that won't do you any good. Instead, consider changing the way that you seek out dentists.
Instead of seeing a standard dentist, consider visiting one that offers dental sedation. Dental sedation is a type of sedation that reduces anxiety, stress, and puts you in a tranquil state while you're having your teeth worked on. If you're afraid of being asleep during a dental procedure, don't worry—you'll be fully conscious while you're under dental sedation. You'll just feel much more relaxed and at ease.
Dental sedation is a great choice for people who have dental phobias. It may even help you to feel so relaxed that your phobia isn't as strong as it used to be after you've been seen with sedation.
Some people experience genuine anxiety and fear over seeing a dentist, even if there's no logical reason for it. Don't beat yourself up over it; you're definitely not the only one. If you need dental work done or just haven't had a cleaning for a while, talk to a dentist about sedation options.