Scared of the Dentist? Here’s What to Do

Are you one of the 36% of people who suffers from dentophobia – a fear of the dentist? You should know that the fear you are experiencing is completely normal and that you are not alone in your discomfort. Here at Loudoun Smile Center, we have experience helping new patients who suffer from this fear.

Anxiety is a natural human response to a perceived threat. The thing about anxiety is that it doesn’t know what is a real danger and what is simply a figment of the imagination. The anxious brain can make something totally routine and safe – like going to the dentist – feel scary.

It’s our goal to ensure everyone can receive the dental care they need without being crippled by dental anxiety. With that in mind, here are a few things we’ve learned from our years of experience in helping patients to overcome dentophobia.

How to Cure Dentophobia

The fear of dental treatment is generally an underlying symptom of a more general anxiety disorder, but dentophobia can also be caused by a bad experience at the dentist in the past.

Here are some steps you can take to decrease your dentophobia and increase your confidence before your next appointment.

1. Find a Dentist You Trust

If you’re scared of the dentist but need treatment, the most important step you can take is to find a dentist you trust. Ask your friends for recommendations, read reviews online, and even call the office to get a sense of what a dental appointment would look like. You can also schedule a meet and greet.

You should also explore the options available to people who suffer from dentophobia, such as sedation dentistry (more on that later).

The anxious brain is comforted when it wields the power to make a decision. Make a conscious decision to go to an appointment with a dentist you’ve researched and it will decrease your level of anxiety.

2. Talk to Your Dentist via TeleDentistry

Don’t force yourself to deal with your fear on your own! Let your dentist know about your anxiety when you make your appointment and find out what they can do to help you. Each office has its own set of rules and resources, and you’ll be more comfortable if you know what is available to you before you go.

During your appointment, let your dental technician and the dentist know that you are anxious. Use this opportunity to ask questions about the appointment, the office, the staff, and what they can do to make you more comfortable.

If your dentist or dental technician is aware of your anxieties, they’ll be more attentive to your needs and your level of comfort throughout the appointment.

3. Bring Your Comforts

Do you have a favorite album, podcast, television show, or movie? Distractions are a tried and true method for reducing anxiety. It’s especially helpful if that distraction is something that brings you comfort or a sense of familiarity.

Blankets, stuffed animals, pictures, and other objects of significance also qualify as items of comfort.

You should also consider asking a trusted friend or family member to accompany you to your visit – especially if that person is the one that recommended Loudoun Smile Center!

4. Immersion Therapy

Immersion therapy is the act of exposing yourself to your fear in a safe, simulated environment. Think of it as practice for your appointment.

For a dental procedure, immersion therapy would consist of lying down while closing your eyes in the comfort of your home while listening to the sounds of a dentist office or waiting room.

At first, these sounds will likely make you anxious. But by undergoing immersion therapy for 10-15 minutes a day for a few weeks, your brain will cease to associate those sounds with the fear that you usually feel at the dentist.

5. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being centered in the present moment. This is often defined by regular meditation and calming techniques that, over time, lower one’s baseline level of anxiety.

There are thousands of free meditation courses available online through YouTube or via smartphone apps like Calm, Insight Timer, and Headspace.

6. Improve Your Sleep

If you aren’t sleeping well, you’re likely to be more anxious during the day. Anxiety can also make it difficult to fall asleep, leading to a vicious cycle.

At Loudoun Smile Center, Dr. Maya Bachour is not only a trained dentist, but also a licensed sleep therapist. If your mental health is suffering from a lack of sleep, we can help diagnose any potential sleep disorders including sleep apnea, leading to more restful sleep and a calmer state of mind.

7. Sedation Dentistry

For patients who want more assistance reducing their anxiety, dentist anxiety medication options are available in the form of sedation dentistry. Our office offers both nitrous oxide and IV sedation based options for people who are afraid of the dentist.

Contact us before your appointment to see if your dental insurance covers one of our sedation options.

Sedation Dentistry in Ashburn, VA

If you experience dentophobia, Loudoun Smile Center offers a number of options to ensure you have a comfortable experience. Give us a call today to discuss options and to make an appointment for any dental procedure you may require.