If you’re the kind of person who always puts off going to the dentist until there really is no other option left, you’re potentially setting yourself up for a lot of pain and health problems in the future.
But, of course you already knew that, right? That lifelong fear you’ve had of visiting the dentist is something you know is irrational, and you want to get past it, but you’re just not sure how to do it.
Dental Anxiety: The stats and why it’s so common
Fear of dentists is incredibly common. Studies have shown that as many as 3 in 4 people admit to some degree of fear about a dental visit. While the studies indicate that more women than men are afraid of going to the dentist, it could simply be that women are more open about discussing fear. It’s probably more likely that all genders are equally affected.
There are many things that can cause the onset of this particular phobia. For example, quite a lot of kids in more ancient times (like the 20th Century) were forced to endure school dental visits sponsored by the government.
Many veterans of these visits have horror stories to tell, because the quality of supply was very much a matter of luck. While obviously some of those dentists were quite skilled, the odds weren’t particularly in favour of getting a good dentist.
The harsh economic reality is that most of the best dentists had busy private practices and simply didn’t have time to go gallivanting around schools putting fillings in milk teeth (which technically don’t even need filling, since they’re going to fall out anyway).
So that’s one very common reason why so many people developed these fears. There’s also something known as vicarious learning, which basically is a situation where you may not have had a bad experience yourself but you develop a fear because of hearing about the bad experience of someone else.
Whatever the reason for your fear, you need to get over it, because there’s a very high chance that during your lifetime you are going to have a dental emergency. Most dental emergencies are preventable with proper maintenance and care, and there are actually many other good reasons to get regular dental check ups.
Overcoming dental anxiety
Modern dentistry is much more efficient, reliable, safe and comfortable than it generally was in times past. You really shouldn’t have any great need for excess anxiety. If you are feeling nervous, the best thing you can do is simply consult a dentist and talk with them about their methods and how they would perform an examination of your teeth. The dentist will never do something that you haven’t consented to, so you don’t have to worry about getting a big surprise.
During a dental exam, the primary purpose is to discover any problems and make you aware of them. You can then make informed decisions about the treatment of those problems.
It can also help to talk with people who have recently received any kind of dental treatment, especially if it is a treatment similar to that which you are seeking. You can also find information online, both as text and video. In fact there are plenty of resources to help you learn more.
A more serious but often very effective remedy is hypnotism, and even if you’re sceptical, it is worth a try if you’re unable to get over your fears any other way.