Fear of the Dentist: How To Transcend Dental Anxiety
Being fearful of going to the dentist is a widely held human anxiety. The very idea of someone invading our intimate oral cavity with sharp tools and screaming drills is enough to send some over the edge. We can make light of this ubiquitous fear of the dentist but it is a substantial issue for both patients and dentists. What can we do about such a problem? Fear of the dentist: How to transcend dental anxiety. It begins with a quest for greater understanding. It starts, like all journeys, with a step in the right direction.
Remembering & Re-invoking Dental Anxiety
Hands up among readers of this article who have some fear of attending a dental clinic. Even if it is only a slight squeamishness down deep inside. Close your eyes now and think about lying prostrate on that treatment couch with your mouth wide open. The dentist has his or her hands inside your oral cavity and you are fighting to breathe normally. Sense that stainless steel tool within your mouth prodding and hooking onto errant teeth in search of cavities and decay. Remember the electric whine of that fast paced drill, as it drives relentlessly into the hard surfaces of your precious tooth. The spray of detritus released by its moaning precision penetration. The whirl of activity happening to you whilst you are victim to it all. The pounding of your heartbeat, as you desperately try to hold onto some iota of reasonable calm in the face of this invasive storm. Yes, going to the dentist – do you remember it now?
Dental Anxiety & Putting It Into Perspective
Of course, not all trips to the dentist are like this. Indeed, some are merely cursory visits to checkup on the state of our teeth and dental hygiene. These encounters are replete with bonhomie and the smiles of receptionists and dental hygienists. Technology plays its hand these days in most modern dental surgeries with overhead screens displaying enlarged images of your canines and molars. There may still be the X-rays where everybody but you flees the scene in fear of radiation, but apparently this is fairly safe (the repeated exposure being the risk for the dental professionals). Modern dentistry has reduced the overall level of invasiveness to some degree. Therefore, visits to the dentist can be considered with less heart palpitating fear. Your dentist wants you to understand that your safety and wellbeing are of utmost concern to all whom ply their trade in this manner.
The History Of Dentistry: Fear of the Dentist Has Been Its Donkey
Pulling out teeth and plugging holes to stem decay have been the mainstay of dentistry for a very long time.
“Dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions, dating back to 7000 B.C. with the Indus Valley Civilisation. However, it wasn’t until 5000 B.C. that descriptions related to dentistry and tooth decay were available. At the time, a Sumerian text described tooth worms as causing dental decay, an idea that wasn’t proven false until the 1700s! In ancient Greece, Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about dentistry, specifically about treating decaying teeth, but it wasn’t until 1530 that the first book entirely devoted to dentistry — The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth — was published. By the 1700s, dentistry had become a more defined profession. In 1723, Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon credited as the Father of Modern Dentistry, published his influential book, The Surgeon Dentist, a Treatise on Teeth, which for the first time defined a comprehensive system for caring for and treating teeth. Additionally, Fauchard first introduced the idea of dental fillings and the use of dental prosthesis, and he identified that acids from sugar led to tooth decay.”
Managing dental anxiety has been with us for just as long. Dentists have done whatever they can to minimise the pain and fear associated with a trip to the dental clinic. In some ways, they have been able to operate despite the air of worry around them because when push comes to shove the pain of tooth ache trumps the fear in the end. However, in today’s world dentists seek an optimal environment for their patients and themselves to operate in. Now is the time of mood lighting and sound. Technology facilitates the availability of background effects with which to soothe away the anxieties of patients prone to worry.
Pain Management & Therapeutic Techniques To Reduce Anxiety
In addition, there is a whole suite of pain management options available for patients as they go under the harsh lights of the operating theatre treatment couch. Plus, dental hygienists are better trained to be responsive to the mental states of patients. Gone are the bad old days, when the predominantly male dentists would embark upon long conversations with patients whilst simultaneously fisting their oral cavity and poking about with a variety of sharp instruments. Sensitivity and compassion are the new dental buzzwords employed in the literature and on their websites and social media pages. Fixing teeth can be a brutal business at its core, when you strip away the social niceties and food court smiles. Teeth are tough curmudgeons to deal with and the instruments of the trade are hardened tools especially made for the difficult job. However, in saying that, we have come along way from the time of blacksmiths and modern dentistry is a wonder of sparkling technology and medical know how. You are in good hands when you visit a dentist in the 21C. The level of expertise is very high and the training is rigorous.
How To Transcend Dental Anxiety
Say a little prayer! What I mean by this is spend some quiet time in preparation for your trip to the dentist. Getting yourself in the right frame of mind is always a good start for most challenging things in life. Meditation may be something you know about or it may be a foreign concept to you. Prayer and meditation are similar internal states of quiet reflection. There is a degree of surrender necessary when undergoing dental treatments and/or surgeries of most kinds. You don’t want to be making things harder than they need be by freaking out in the dental chair. The power of the human mind is impressive when applied to managing fear and not working yourself into an emotional state. Empower yourself in this regard in preparation and during your dental procedure. Think of Yoda from Star Wars or whoever represents that mystical super power of meditative force at work.
Get Happy Gas
“Known as happy gas or laughing gas, nitrous oxide can help people relax during dental treatment. A mask is fitted to your face, and you breathe a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide. It takes effect within a few minutes and wears off quickly. You will feel relaxed but will still be awake. You can talk to the dentist, and hear what they say to you, but you won’t necessarily remember everything once the visit is over. For most people, the relaxed sensation created by nitrous oxide sedation is very pleasant. Occasionally people don’t like the sensation it creates, and other options can be considered.”
– Better Health
Nitrous oxide or happy gas is but one pain management option available at most dental clinics. Talk to your dentist about alternatives if anxiety about the dental procedures are a serious issue for you.
Don’t Let Fear Stop You From Getting Dental Help
The most important thing is not to let your fear of the dentist prevent you getting the dental care that the majority of us require throughout our lives. Putting off the dentist, generally, makes things worse in the medium to long run. Fear of the dentist: How to transcend dental anxiety becomes pretty important if you are going to enjoy good dental hygiene and functional teeth. Bad teeth can cause all sorts of discomfort and lead to much more serious health outcomes if not treated. Your dentist is a servant to your gums and teeth. She or he is trained to identify, diagnose, and treat the problems common to these parts of our body. Dentists play a vital role in maintaining our dental care. They are sensitive and compassionate to your particular circumstances and feelings. Together you can overcome your fear of going to the dentist.
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