If you're afraid of the dentist, you're not alone. In fact, fear of going to the dentist is far more common than you think. But what drives this fear, and how can you overcome it? Read on to find out.
Fear of the dentist is no laughing matter, with some people so terrified at the idea of making the trip that they avoid it altogether. Most people don't realise that the state of their teeth and gums can affect many other parts of their body, including their lungs, brain and heart. Poor dental hygiene can impact the fertility of both men and women and can even lead to serious diseases, including kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis and several types of cancer.
With so much at stake, how can people alleviate their dental fears?
For many people, mustering the courage to confront their fear of going to the dentist is based in understanding where that fear came from in the first place. For some, their fear springs from a painful visit to the dentist as a child, long before dentistry evolved to become the relatively comfortable science it is today. For others, their resistance to seeking treatment started when they experienced a shocking accident, such as a car accident or sports mishap, that hurt their teeth, dramatically impacting their sense of personal safety. Other people point to more complex psychological causes of their fears, citing embarrassment at having offensive breath, a fear of not being in control or feeling ashamed at their very anxiety.
If you feel significant anxiety at the thought of a trip to the dentist, the important thing to remember is that you are in control and, no matter how fearful you feel, you can feel confident that your dentist has seen it all before.
Many people find it helpful to remind themselves that they are in charge of their appointment by booking it well in advance. Others simple arrive at their appointment and 'confess all', explaining how anxious they feel. A dentist is human after all and, understanding your fears, will be only too happy to help you get through your appointment as comfortably as possible. Having a pre-arranged signal such as raising your hand could be all it takes to turn an anxious ordeal into a manageable experience.
Finally, remember that what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. Once you've gathered your courage and conquered your fear of the dentist the sky's the limit. Anyone for skydiving?