A Problem Shared- Fear of the Dentist

Hi Evan,

I think most of us (if we’re being honest) would admit that we don’t like going to the dentist; it’s certainly not on my list of fun things to do J.  Believe it or not, lots of people suffer from ODONTOPHOBIA, which is a fear of receiving dental care. This can be for a number of reasons, such as not knowing what to expect, or the thought of the pain involved in any procedure you may need.

Did you have a bad experience before?  If so, perhaps you could discuss this with your parents and see if it’s possible to see a different dentist – one who specialises in treating children, and who will take the time to explain things to you.

If your fears are more to do with what might happen, then it’s worth talking to your dentist before he or she starts your examination, just explaining that you’re really nervous because you don’t know what they are going to do.  If you ask them to let you know what’s happening at each stage of the procedure, then that will help you to prepare yourself and hopefully take some of the fear away.

Some dentists will ask you to give a hand signal if you want them to stop, which will help you to feel more in control.  You don’t have to be in pain to give the signal, it may just be that you need to catch your breath or take a short break – if your dentist doesn’t do this, ask if she would – or perhaps one of your parents could ask for you if you feel afraid to do this.

Distraction is often a good way to deal with unpleasant experiences, so you could think about taking your headphones with you so that you can listen to music during your appointment – some dentists even provide this for you!

Of course, pain is often the main reason people fear the dentist, but nowadays, dentists have lots of different medicines and techniques for dealing with this. This can help to reduce, or completely eliminate, pain during any dental procedures you may need.

Going to the dentist every six months is a really important part of your dental health routine, along with brushing and flossing, as it gives your dentist a chance to carry out a thorough check of your teeth, gums and mouth.  It’s also an opportunity for the dental hygienist to give your teeth a professional clean, removing built-up plaque and tartar that could cause gum disease, bad breath and cavities – this means that there’s less chance of you needing treatment in the future!

If you take good care of your teeth by brushing at least twice a day and flossing regularly, as well as having a healthy diet, you’re much less likely to need dental treatment. 

As for the smell, most dental surgeries smell the same and this is due to something called ‘Eugenol’, a product dentists use for a variety of reasons – it’s an antiseptic and a painkiller, as well as being one of the ingredients for temporary fillings, so it’s pretty hard to avoid! 

Good luck with your trip to the dentist – try to relax and hopefully it won’t be as bad as you think.

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