Going to the dentist is about as much fun as plucking out your eyelashes one by one. Still, if you want to have good oral health, it’s crucial that you get cleanings regularly—even if you fear the dentist. At the very least, that’s once a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though it may be more frequent based on your dentist’s recommendation.
If you dread going to the dentist’s office, you’re not alone. “I see this every day,” Susan Maples, D.D.S., author of Blabber Mouth! 77 Secrets Only Your Mouth Can Tell You to Live a Healthier, Happier, Sexier Life, tells SELF. “I assume that patients have anxiety about their visits because, if they don’t, they’re in the minority.”
Having your teeth inspected, scraped, picked at, and drilled is never going to be the best time of your life. Still, dentists swear these eight things can at least make the experience less traumatizing.
1. Ask for topical numbing cream for your gums before your cleaning.
It’s totally fine to request that your dentist uses some topical anesthesia before they dive in, Julie Cho, D.M.D., a general dentist in New York City, tells SELF. “This will numb the tissue so you won’t feel things so acutely,” she says. The same is true if you need to have an injection of some kind—having numbing cream applied to the area beforehand will help dampen the pinch of the needle, Dr. Cho says.
2. Call ahead to see what de-stressing options are available and appropriate for you.
For instance, if you’re so freaked out about having your teeth handled that you regularly put off or cancel dentist appointments, you may benefit from having some kind of short-acting anti-anxiety medication during your visit, licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., tells SELF. “Being at the dentist can be uncomfortable, and even painful at moments,” she says. “But being afraid and anxious doesn’t have to be part of it, too.”
Every dentist’s office is different, but some can offer you nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas), which you inhale during certain dental procedures to help you relax and feel more comfortable, Mark S. Wolff, D.D.S., Ph.D., a professor and chair of the department of cariology and comprehensive care at the New York University College of Dentistry, tells SELF.
Or you could ask if they can prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to take the edge off. If your dentist can’t prescribe it, ask your therapist or general practitioner instead. If a professional other than your dentist prescribes you anti-anxiety medication, check in with your dentist’s office before taking it to make sure it won’t interfere with the care you need, Dr. Wolff says.
And while we wouldn't recommend knocking back shots of tequila before your visit, having a glass of wine may be acceptable if you check with your dentist beforehand. “To me, it’s acceptable as long as the patient is safe,” Dr. Maples says. “It can relax them. I get it.” But there's a huge caveat here: You need to check with your dentist first to verify that you don’t need a procedure that would make it a bad idea to drink. This part is really important, since alcohol can act as a blood thinner, which could make you bleed more than usual, Dr. Wolff says. If you're having anything done beyond a basic cleaning, or if your gums are prone to bleeding, this probably isn't a good idea. Only your dentist can tell you for sure.
And, in any of these cases, make sure someone can drive you to and from your visit safely.
3. Have your dentist walk you through the steps they’re going to take before they actually take them.
If you’re already freaked about visiting the dentist, having them stick tools in your mouth without you knowing what the eff is happening isn’t going to help. That’s why Dr. Cho recommends that you ask your dentist to explain what they’re going to do first. “As a patient, you have every right to know what's being done and why, and if there are options,” she says.
4. Bring a sympathetic loved one who’s willing to give you a massage (yes, really!).
Dr. Maples’ office actually has a massage therapist do complimentary massages on anxious patients during their cleanings. The idea is to focus on a more pleasurable experience so the feeling of getting your teeth cleaned fades into the background.
Since most dentists don’t offer this service, you can replicate it with a willing friend or family member, provided you check first with your dentist’s office and they’re OK with it, Dr. Maples says.
5. Make your appointment for the middle of the day when things are calmer.
Like every doctor’s office, your dentist’s office will be busier at certain times. The middle of the day, when people have already gone to work and kids are in school, tends to be quieter, Dr. Maples says. “That’s when it’s a little more relaxed to be in the office,” she says. The less hectic setting may help tame your nerves. Plus, the odds are pretty high that you’ll be in and out more quickly than if you were to schedule your visit another time, Dr. Maples says, so you won’t spend as much time in the waiting room agonizing over what’s to come.
6. Tune out with music as your dentist works.
Music can be a great distraction, which is key when all you can think about is having dental tools that look like torture devices in your mouth. As long as your dentist is OK with it, it should be fine to listen to music during your appointment. “Today, everyone has their own music—bring it,” Dr. Wolff says. To make it easier on everyone, Dr. Wolff recommends bringing earbuds instead of a big headset, which can get in the way of your dentist’s work. Noise-cancelling ones can be especially helpful, Dr. Cho says. “I always tell patients if I need their attention, I'll just tap them on their shoulders,” she adds.
7. Agree on a signal that both you and your dentist know is a sign you’re in pain or need a breather.
Many people are freaked out at the idea of being unable to communicate during a dental appointment—hello, your mouth is a little busy, here. This is why Dr. Maples recommends having a signal that lets your doctor know that you’re uncomfortable and need to stop. Most patients opt for raising their hand, but it can be anything, she says—just make sure your dentist is on the same page before they start your treatment.
If you’re nervous about bringing this up with your dentist, don’t be. Your dentist likely wants to know when you’re in pain to see if there’s anything they can do about it. “Dentists do not get rewarded for hurting people,” Dr. Wolff says. “Our goal is to make people smile.”
8. Plan a post-visit reward you can look forward to, especially one that hinges on getting your butt in that dentist’s chair.
Now that you’re a grown-up, your dentist probably isn’t offering you a toy at the end of your appointment. Luckily, you can just treat yourself instead. Anticipation of doing something awesome can make your trip to the dentist much easier, Dr. Cho says.
Planning out a little something nice in advance, like going to a movie or taking a shopping trip, can help you get through the visit, Dr. Cho says. You can even hold yourself accountable with a method like buying a movie ticket online, having it sent to a friend’s email instead of yours, and telling them they can only send it back to you if you go to your dentist’s appointment.
There are a lot of ways to make going to the dentist a bit easier, but there’s one common denominator: a dentist who cares about how you feel and will cooperate with your plan, or even offer their own suggestions based on your situation. If your dentist won’t work with you to make you more comfortable, it’s time to get a new one. “Find a dentist who will listen to your concerns and fears,” Dr. Wolff says. “Having a dentist that recognizes you are uneasy is a big help.”
Source : https://www.self.com/story/dentist-appointment-fear-tips