As an important element of your overall wellbeing, your oral health requires regular attention. That attention includes visiting a dentist twice a year, or more often if your circumstances command it. For some people, the thought of seeing a dentist feels daunting. If you're among them, here's how to handle your dentophobia.
Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing yourself to the thing or experience you have a phobia of. When it comes to dental treatments, this could include going to your dentist's office without actually seeing them. If you do require treatment, you may want to gradually try interactions with a dental professional that aren't too invasive. For example, having a quick oral examination rather than heading straight for a root canal. If your fear is especially problematic, it's best to ask a counsellor to guide you through exposure therapy. That way, you'll have a professional identifying the levels of exposure that are best for you and mapping your progress.
For some people, dentophobia arises when they consider the sensations that come with typical dental treatments. Although dentists are excellent at controlling pain, you may still feel sensations such as tugging and pressure. One way to overcome this is through the use of twilight sedation. Twilight sedation ensures you're less likely to experience these sensations when undergoing certain dental procedures. However, it isn't typically available in all dental settings. If you do use it, you'll need to make sure a friend or family member drives you home after your treatment ends.
You won't be able to use medications to cure your dentophobia entirely. However, you can use them to diminish some of the sensations you experience when your anxiety heightens. For example, certain heart medications can stop you from experiencing the racing heartbeat you encounter when you face something that scares you. Using medications can prove useful when you want to relax ahead of treatment. You can also use them in the days running up to your appointment so that you don't feel overcome with anxiety. You may need to speak with a doctor in order to get a relevant prescription. Once you start taking the medication, make sure you inform your dentist just in case it affects the way they deliver your care.
You may also want to try discussing your fears with a dental professional. They may be able to provide advice that puts your worries at ease.
For more information, contact a dentist near you.