Odontophobia, otherwise known as the fear of the dentist, is very common. Dental work can be invasive and sometimes painful depending on the procedure, so it is natural to feel some apprehension about visiting the dentist. However, it is important to go to appointments with your dentist twice a year for exams and cleanings and to have any other necessary work done in order to support your oral health. The quality of your oral health often correlates to your overall health as well. There are resources to help you get through your time with the dentist. Here are three suggestions to help you manage your odontophobia.
Utilize sedation dentistry to manage your fears
Ask your dentist if sedation is available for your appointment. There are many levels of sedation, which can range from helping you to relax to putting you in a twilight state. While under sedation, your anxiety level is completely managed. Another benefit of dental sedation is that you would also be able to have dental work done that might have otherwise required several appointments. If you opt for sedation dentistry, make sure to bring someone to your appointment who will be able to help you get home while the sedation wears off.
Schedule your appointment during a quiet time
Call your dentist's office and explain your situation. Your dentist and their staff want to support your steps toward taking control of your oral health. Ask to schedule your appointment for a time when the office is quiet. This will allow your dentist and their staff to work with you at a calmer pace during your appointment. For example, you will be able to ask for a break between portions of your exam to collect yourself. Less ambient noise from other patients may also help to settle your anxiety.
Block out stimuli with an eye mask and headphones
For some, odontophobia is triggered by the sights and sounds of the dentist's office. Block out these stimuli by bringing an eye mask and headphones to your appointment to distract you. If you are uncomfortable completely covering your eyes, you can opt to wear sunglasses instead. In terms of headphones, you can play soothing music that you enjoy or opt to wear noise-canceling headphones. If you are looking for a different kind of distraction, ask your dentist if it is possible to play a movie for you to focus on while you are getting dental work done.