Written by Charlotte Wood (last updated April 15, 2009)
It's not uncommon to fear dentists. Even now, I still have a slight fear of going to the dentist. When you go to the dentist, you just have to sit there and let people poke around in your mouth, putting gross, gritty toothpaste on your teeth. I hate swishing the fluoride, and I'm always scared that the dentist will find a cavity and that I'll have to get shot up with Novocain while listening to the drill that's chipping away my teeth. Ew. Dentist visits are necessary though, and so it would be best if you overcame your fear of dentists if you want to make your dentist visits less dreaded.
The key to overcoming your fear of dentists is to find a dentist whom you like and trust. Regardless of whether your dentist is a good dentist, you'll never overcome your fear if you don't like or trust your dentist. Take the time to find a good dentist with whom you feel comfortable: Ask your friends at school, at church, at the PTA. Check out the offices, ask if people have heard of your potential dentist, and do some research online. The more you know about your dentist—whether it's through the phone book, a dentist magazine, or your next door neighbor—the less reason there is to fear your dentist.
Another way to overcome your fear of dentists is to simply take care of your teeth. If you take care of your teeth, then ideally there won't be a reason for the dentist to do anything scary in your mouth. At your cleanings, you'll have to deal with the occasional poky instrument and the gross toothpaste, but if you take the proper measures to take care of your teeth, then there should be no need for drills or Novocain.
If you think you've found a dentist you like, then try him or her out a couple of times. Make sure that you feel comfortable with your dentist and that your dentist does the necessary procedures with care and finesse. Even if a dentist is nice, he may not be very good with the Novocain shot. Make sure you like the dentist's office, the other workers, the technology used. Some dentists now use more sophisticated technology, and some even have good distraction methods for their patients (like video games, mP3 players, and TVs). If you truly want to overcome your fear of the dentist, then you need to find a dentist who makes you feel comfortable.
You don't have to be destined to hate the dentist. The dentist may not be your most looked-forward-to appointment of the year, but it doesn't have to be the most dreaded either. If you can make it so you feel comfortable in your surroundings, then going to the dentist will be a breeze!
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If you have dental fears, you might try an Independent Dental Hygienist. You can relax knowing that on that visit, there won't be any hidden surprises. Possibly increasing these preventative visits will keep "fixing" things to a minimum.