It has been estimated that 25%-50% of people avoid or procrastinate going to the dentist. If you are one of those let’s take a look at your reasons and find some surprising ways to change your mind. Dental dread’s top eight: 1) Pain: Fear and anxiety about going to the dentist leads to an increased expectation of pain. The threat of pain in turn leads to more fear, avoidance and denial. 2) Shots & needles: Many people have an irrational fear of getting a shot but for others it ties in with the expectation that the shot will be painful; and so it is! 3) Cost: Dental care is far from cheap, but often those that need it most are more likely not to go to dental appointments because they can’t afford it. Unfortunately, the longer you put it off, the greater the expense to repair any damage, whether simple or complex. Plus, who wants to spend money on an unpleasant experience? Absolutely counter-intuitive! 4) Helplessness: Having an open airway is a basic need of survival. Along with the fear of choking comes the reality that you are lying down, unable to move and, because your mouth is full of sharp tools, often unable to even speak. 5) Invasiveness: Dental work is by its very nature invasive and uncomfortable. If your dentist is not super empathetic you may even feel violated, especially if you have a history of abuse or torture. 6) Predisposition: If your parents have a dental phobia it is more likely that you will pick the fear up from them. Also a mental imbalance of some kind can easily make you more susceptible to odontophobia (fear of dental work). 7) Indifference: Poor customer service and being treated with indifference by just one member of staff can lead to a bad experience. Ever sat in the chair while the dentist and hygienist have a conversation that excludes you? Ever had a staff member lecture you about what you have not been doing to help your teeth and gums? We all want to be treated with warmth and respect. 8) Past negative experiences: These can come from any of the categories above and can have long lasting and far-reaching effects in the present moment. Here are some tips to diminish your dread:
- Ask friends about their dentist and why they like them. I know of a great Sedona dental office, just ask me! Once you have selected a dentist, call them to talk about your fears ahead of time and find out what they can do specifically to help you. Do they provide sedation beforehand? Do they offer conscious sedation during procedures? Do they take your fears seriously?
- If the dental office doesn’t offer it, take your own favorite music with headphones along. You can also take your own aromatherapy and maybe a stress ball to squeeze.
- Take a friend with you for moral support and advocacy. If you take your massage therapist they can have a dual role of massaging you while you wait and even in the chair if you feel you need it either as a distraction or a pain management technique.
- Get a massage right before your dental appointment so you are more relaxed going in. I can also teach you self-hypnosis techniques that work beautifully during dentistry. Get a massage right after your appointment to ease a sore jaw, neck or headache. There are great myofascial techniques to release these areas and even individual teeth. The message here is that massage can help immeasurably both pre and post-dental surgery.
Dentists spy cell phone I or that the kiss-ably way. agree that it’s easier to work on a calm patient so using these stress-relieving techniques provides a win-win for patient and dentist. Massage can also turn a negative into a positive experience and create healthier memories to encourage your willing return. Some dentists state that relaxation in the dental office leads to better patient outcomes. Though there are a few dental spas in the USA, (none that I know of in Sedona) my vision for the future is that all dental offices will be more spa-like with relaxing aromas, comfortable furniture, beautiful music, an inviting environment, healthy refreshments, warm neck pads and mini-massage services paid for by the office as part of their smart marketing campaign. Sound good? Check out www.sedonadentalarts.com and Roy Daniels DDS, my two favorites in Sedona. For more helpful blogs and tips go to www.bodydialog.com.