Easy tips for overcoming fears of the dentist

We all know that regular visits to the dentist will help keep our teeth and gums healthy. There is also increasing evidence that oral health is even related to the incidence of heart disease. Many of us, however, become anxious at the thought of climbing into the dental chair. There are several ways to prepare for your next visit with calm and confidence. The following are 5 easy tips for overcoming fears of the dentist:

1. Plan a Pre-appointment Visit

Before you actually have an appointment or a procedure completed, plan for a consultation or a visit to talk with the staff. Take the time to ask any questions and to familiarize yourself with the office. If you don't feel comfortable it's okay to visit another dentist. Every dentist has his or her own personality and style.

2. Bring Along a Friend

Discuss this with your dentist and, if possible, plan to bring someone along for your next visit. Having a good friend or trusted family member with you in the office can help calm your fears and put you at ease. Sometimes a familiar face or voice can make all the difference when going through a tense situation.

3. Find a Distraction

Ask your dentist if you can wear headphones and listen to music during your next visit. Many dentists will allow their patients to do this. Download music you've never heard before so you'll be paying particular attention to the songs. Some dentists may even have television screens in their offices for patients to watch. Even bringing something as simple as a stress ball into the office can give you something to hold onto and take your mind off the procedure.

4. Discuss Options for Sedatives

Mild sedatives may be used for the first visit if you haven't had a dental cleaning or procedure for many years. The dosage can be decreased with each subsequent visit until you feel more comfortable. Enjoying an over-the-counter herbal tea such as chamomile before a visit may also help you feel more relaxed. Discuss the treatments available with your dentist and the staff. Sometimes simply knowing these options are available if you need them can help ease your fears.

5. Keep Regular Dental Appointments

The more we engage in almost any activity the more comfortable we become. Many people who have fears of the dentist simply avoid going, which only makes the anxiety worse. Finding a dentist you can trust and then getting into the routine of keeping regular appointments can ease your fears. Regular cleanings and exams can also limit the number of extensive procedures you may need in the future.

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