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How To Talk To Your Dentist About Your Fears

Woman at a dental clinic

You’ve finally done it. You made an appointment for the dentist for the first time in years or the first time ever. Just because you’ve set the date doesn’t mean your fears about the dentist have magically gone away. They’re still there, eating away at you and keeping you up at night. The closer you get to the date of the appointment, the worse you feel. When it gets too bad, you cancel the appointment or just refuse to go.

Don’t let this happen to you. Dental care is important to your overall well-being and health. Talk to your dentist about your fears from the very beginning so we can help you deal with them. Here are a few tips to make this conversation easier. Set an Appointment to Talk Don’t let the first time you meet your dentist be at the appointment that terrifies you. You won’t be at your best, and your dentist won’t be able to help you as well as they’d like. Instead set a pre-appointment meeting. This will be your opportunity to meet the dentist, talk about your fears, and get a sense of whether they have solutions that can help you. Make a List of Your Fears Some people have too many fears of the dentist to count – needles, the drill, the chair, the office, even the smell. Writing down a list means you won’t leave anything out during your conversation. If you only have one big fear, write down where it comes from or what you think caused it. This will make sure you share important details with the dentist. Understanding what triggers the fear is a big step in combating it. Bring a List of Questions You won’t necessarily interrogate the dentist during this meeting, but bring a list of questions you want answered before you leave. Some of them may get answered in the course of the conversation, and others you may have to pointedly ask. What kind of questions could be on your list?

  • Can someone be with me in the room?

  • Do you offer dental sedation treatment?

  • Can we stop if I become uncomfortable?

  • Can you numb me so I don’t feel anything?

  • Do I have to see the needles?

  • Are there other instruments/procedures/techniques you can use?

  • Can I listen to music?

  • Can I watch TV?

  • Will you take breaks if I need them?

  • Does this procedure have to be done in one visit? This is good if you need major dental work done.

Share Your History Not only do you need to tell your dentist your medical and dental history, but also share the story of when you became scared. Let them know how other doctors or dentists have handled your fears. Some of this might be good like a dentist who let you take breaks and some might be negative. Sharing it all gives the dentist a good perspective on what your experiences have been and where they need to be careful. Ask About Your Options for Dealing with Fear You’re already afraid of the dentist or something in the office. Chances are that you’ve done your research on other options. Ask your dentist if these options are available. Nitrous oxide is common in any dental office, but what about oral sedation? Do they provide distractions like television? Are they willing to do something new and different to help you deal with your fear? Watch and Listen Knowing if this dentist can help you isn’t just about what you tell them, it’s also about how they react. Do they ask questions to better understand? Does this dentist offer solutions to help? Watch to see if they’re understanding, compassionate, empathetic, and willing to listen. This kind of demeanor can make all the difference when you’re doing something that terrifies you. Good dentists want you to have the best oral care possible. Great dentists will work with you to overcome or work around your fears and anxieties. Conclusion Making the phone call is scary. Going to the dentist’s office is even scarier. Sitting down in the chair while the drill buzzes might paralyze you. You’ve done the hard part – you made the call. Now sit down with your dentist and talk to them about your dental fears and anxieties. They can’t change what happened to scare you, but they may be able to offer solutions for the future. Don’t let your oral care and dental health suffer out of fear. Talk to your dentist so you can work together to get you in the dental chair with less fear.

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