If you are afraid of the dentist, the fear can come from a lot of places, but in many cases, it comes from a feeling of a lack of control. If you believe your dental anxiety stems from a fear of losing control, you may want to explore some empowering strategies. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
1. Don't Get Rushed Into Decisions
Dentists know all kinds of things that you don't, but that doesn't mean that they have the right to decide what happens to your mouth or to push you into procedures you don't want. Ask the dentist for a list of options.
For example, if you are missing a tooth, your options may be to leave the spot empty or put in an implant. When you have a list of options, go home, do some research and come to a conclusion on your own terms. Then, make your follow-up appointment at the dentist office.
2. Specify That You Need Gentle Cleanings
Cleanings shouldn't be painful, but they can be uncomfortable, especially if you have issues with your gums. To prevent your gums from bleeding and to minimise discomfort, ask the hygienist to work slowly and be as gentle as possible on your teeth. Make that desire clear before you start, and work out a hand signal so that you can stop the hygienist as needed. Knowing that you can stop the work as desired can help to lessen some of your fear.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Ask Questions
You have the right to know what's happening with your dental care, and by extension, you have the right to ask as many questions as you want. Don't be afraid to ask questions about anything from the X-ray techniques to the process for curing teeth before adding a crown. If the dentist refuses to answer questions, that may be a sign that that individual isn't a good match for your needs.
If you have lots of questions, you may need to book extra time. Some dental clinics are willing to give patients a double time slot. That may be necessary if you anticipate needing a lot of extra information about procedures and options.
4. Shop Around Until You Find the Right Fit
Dentists are people, and simply put, you are not going to click with every dental provider you meet. So that you feel empowered, you may want to look around until you find the right dentist. You may even want to see if you can meet the dentist before you have your first appointment.