If you have a phobia of dentists, it can be all too easy to avoid heading to the dentist. Unfortunately, the longer you wait between appointments, the more severe your dental issues can become, which can lead to longer and more involved treatments. Here are some ways to help you manage your dental phobia.
Dissect your fear.
While you may have a general fear of dentists, most dentist phobia patients have specific triggers such as odours of antiseptics or surgical gloves, the noise of dental drills or the fear of pain. If you can isolate the specific triggers for your phobia you can eliminate those triggers, and help to manage your dental phobias.
Practice relaxation techniques.
It can be useful to practice relaxation techniques in the week leading up to the appointment, so you have a strong image of your mental "safe place" that you can head to when you hit stressful situations. Imagine walking along a path until you get to the special place you feel relaxed, and practice visiting the place regularly. By visiting your calm and mental place regularly, and setting fixed visual cues of the location, you set a firm neural pathway to help you access the place (and calm emotions) more easily in stressful situations.
Speak to professionals.
If your anxiety around dentist visits is part of a larger mental health issue such as generalised anxiety disorder, it's worth mentioning your next visit to the dentist to your general practitioner or psychiatrist. They may recommend extra treatments such as medication or additional therapy to support your mental health. Be sure to let them know of any specific triggers you have identified, as this can help focus your therapy in a way that has the most impact.
Find a dentist that specialises in anxious patients.
If you have a specific dental phobia, it can be useful to see a dentist who has experience with dental phobia. They often set longer appointments, have soothing music backgrounds and scents and are willing to discuss pain relief options to suit your dental treatment plans. Equally, they may have training in relaxation techniques to help soothe anxious patients and a more open attitude to discussing treatment options. Contact a professional dental clinic like Redland Bay Dental Surgery Toothwise and discuss their protocol for treating patients with dental phobia.
Coming up with a plan to manage your dental phobia can help you get to the dentist more regularly and avoid complex dental problems.