Dental phobia and Dental anxiety can be overcome. The first step is believing that. Fear is a learned behavior and so, can be unlearned. Behavior modification must treat you as a whole person for you to overcome your fears. This will take a concerted effort by you, your dentist, and the dental staff. The key to overcoming any dental phobia is communication. You must always feel comfortable expressing your feelings, fears, and concerns before, during, and after treatment is rendered. You must also feel that the dental team is listening to you and making adjustments as needed.
“Communication Is The Key.”— Marielaina Perrone DDS
Communication should never be compromised for any patient but it is doubly important for a patient with a dental phobia. This will allow you to feel a sense of control over
your treatment that maybe you have never felt in a dental office before.
Tips To Overcome Dental Phobia
Feeling of Control
-All procedures proposed to you should be clearly explained and any concerns you might have should be addressed by the dental team. This is your right as a patient. Do not be shy, if you have a question about a particular procedure, ask it!
-Give yourself the power of knowledge to help alleviate fears of the unknown. You should not be simply told what treatment is needed, you should have input into the
decisions and the choices. You need to be honest with your dentist regarding how much treatment you can tolerate initially. As time moves on, you will build confidence in yourself as well as increased trust in the dentist and staff treating you. Over time appointment lengths can
be increased. A system should be established allowing you to stop for any reason, whether it be because you need more anesthesia, want to rinse out, or simply need a break. The most common signal is simply raising your left hand to alert the dentist and staff of your need to communicate.increase. You will be amazed how long you will be able to sit in the chair to stay healthy!
Never Feel Embarrassed
-If you have been ridiculed in the past for your behavior or if you are embarrassed by your present dental condition caused by your neglect, please express yourself honestly and give your dentist a chance to understand your concerns and show you that they care. You will be amazed at the wealth of treatment options that you might not have thought were possible. With modern dentistry, it’s never too late to recreate a new smile!
Techniques To Relax
-If you feel tense in the chair, the easiest way to relax is through forms of physical relaxation. A relaxed body promotes a clear and relaxed mind. The human body cannot be physically relaxed and mentally anxious at the same time! The brain won’t process these feelings simultaneously. Physical relaxation methods are easier to accomplish at first as compared to cognitive ones, so practice forms of physical relaxation first. Light meditation methods and music work very well. Light conscious sedation, such as valium, is a great way to start.
-Examples of physical relaxation are Diaphragmatic Breathing, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, and various methods taught in yoga . There are numerous books and sources for these methods. If you induce relaxation in the presence of the stimuli that normally induces your fears (the dental environment), the fear response will be greatly diminished over multiple exposures and you will gradually desensitize yourself to these fears as you build confidence. The memories of traumatic visits will be replaced with more innocuous ones and this less threatening environment coupled with your relaxation methods will help you eliminate your fears.
-Repetition. The simple process of repeat appointments, will make you feel more comfortable. As you learn what to expect, and realize that you are in control of the appointment, you will be able to manage more time in the chair. Remember not to wait too long between appointments or to reschedule unless an emergency arises. Merely coming to the office and not having treatment that day is better than canceling.
As you get more comfortable in the dental environment, you can engage in various distraction techniques that many offices have. The use of an ipod with your favorite music is a common technique. We only suggest using distraction techniques once you have established some trust and confidence because your ability to communicate will be decreased, although it is easy to stop by using your pre-established hand signals.
Predictable Pain Control
Modern dentistry has many new techniques with regards to the administration of local anesthetics to block any possibility of pain. There are many people who have differences in their anatomy that do require more individualized techniques in order to predictably achieve proper local anesthesia. This variation must be respected and communicated to your dentist. All injections should be given slowly. The needle itself is not the major cause of discomfort, but in fact, it is the pressure and volume of the fluids being injected that causes the discomfort. There are also great differences in the types of tissue in various locations, anatomically and from person to person, that must be considered when administering injections. There are even computer-controlled machines that are now available to standardize the injection process and make it more predictable than the conventional hand-held syringe.
EMPOWER YOURSELF WITH KNOWLEDGE
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR FEARS!”
— Marielaina Perrone DDS