Although the dentist office can seem like an intimidating place, with plenty of tools going in and out of your mouth, it’s not supposed to be scary at all! Unfortunately, dentalphobia is one of the more common fears amongst both children and adults today, and that needs to change.
With children, it can be easier to overcome this fear. Many childrens’ dentists are aware that their offices can be a scary place for kids, and they’re willing to do what they can to fix that! Some offices will show movies or TV shows for the kids to watch as they’re getting stuff done, or the parents can even come in with them. For a child who expresses unusual fear, though, sometimes a special appointment can be made with the dentist so that they can get a tour of the office. Without having to get any work done, they can sit in the chair and see all the different equipment that might be used. They’ll learn what each tool does, and how the dentist uses something to clean their mouth. Introducing a child to the concept is an important first step before any actual work is done, and it goes a long way to ease fear. If your child is nervous about their first appointment, consider asking your dentist if they’d be willing to give them a tour of the office!
Adults who express this fear are common as well, however they can be harder to treat, in part because they’ll go out of their way to avoid the dentist. However, they are more able to explain their fears — instead of saying it’s scary, they can say that the chance of pain scares them. The most important step any adult with dentalphobia can take is opening the lines of communication. No dentist wants someone to suffer through serious problems because they’re too scared to come in. Instead, they can suggest coping mechanisms or ease the patient’s worries. For instance, if the patient is afraid of not being able to speak up during the procedure, the dentist can make sure to ask at every step: “Is this okay?” or “Does this hurt?”
Overall, with both children and adults, communication is the key to a positive dentist experience. After all, a positive experience means you’ll be more likely to take care of your teeth, and more willing to come back for appointments and check-ups whenever they occur. No more dentalphobia!