As president Franklin Roosevelt once said “The only thing we should fear is fear itself”.
This statement is in no position to calm a patient with fear of the dentist. However, it is true.
Think a second – how many times did you go to the dentist, and how many times did you actually feel unbearable pain? And now think how many times you thought about going to the dentist and thought about this unbearable pain?
Conquer your dental anxiety – keep your teeth healthty
Fear of pain is one of the main reasons why people avoid going to the dentist. Terms like “root canal treatment” or “drilling” give chills to most people. A simple untreated caries can grow into a more complex problem, such as root canal treatment, which can later grow into a lost tooth. So what most people do is avoiding a small dental treatment, such as caries treatment, which later grows into a much more painful and costly procedure. Later they go through more pain, physical and financial, because of this initial fear.
The fear of the dentist now and then
The fear of the dentist is often present at the older generation, due to their childhood memories of the dentist visits. Metal equipment, sharp distinctive smell, which you never happen to forget, the harsh sound of the machines and the big bright light, pointed at your face. This was the reality back in time. It was considered an advantage a few decades ago, having in mind that the average life expectancy back in the 1920s was 55 yo for males and 60 yo for females. Now these figures are much different. Today, the average male in the UK is expected to live up to 80 years of age, and the average female – up to 85 years old. This increase is highly related to the improvements in medical and social conditions, where dentistry plays a central role.
Despite the enormous developments in dentistry, we still have this fear of the dentist. It is actually fear of pain, often just fear of a single needle, or fear of repeating a previous disappointment. A mosquito bite is often more painful but this is rarely a comparison we keep in our mind when we expect an upcoming appointment to the dentist.
Methods against dental phobia
Today, many dental practices have applied different methods to help their patients deal with dental phobia. Often words of encouragement are enough for the patient to relax in the first few minutes. In more stressful patients, many dentists apply a spray before the needle with anesthesia. The recent years of technological advance has given the ability to use special multimedia glasses, which allow the patient to watch a movie or a relaxing meditational scenery with calming music. It aims to distract the attention of the patient from the present moment, thus allowing him to “distance” himself from the painful situation and go smoothly into the dental procedure.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”
Experience in time shows that fear should not be avoided. It should be faced in order to be understood, accepted and survived. This is the only effective way to live a healthy life.
As Nelson Mandela said “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear”.
Our best advice for conquering your dental fear is to not forget your regular dental check-ups and consultations. It is safe to just go on a visit, have a consultation with the dentist, meet the team, feel the atmosphere and then decide if you will take your treatment with them. This is your health, and it is your responsibility to take good care of yourself, and to choose the right people to assist you with it.
That’s all it takes. A single act of bravery to book an appointment and visit the dentist.
Also published on Medium.