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There are many fears in modern life, but few are as universal as dental dread. Fear of the dental chair is as widespread as it is dangerous, yet it is rarely recognized as a threat to human health.

The fact that dental health and overall health are closely linked has been demonstrated again and again. If you avoid the dentist because you are afraid, it is important to overcome that phobia and take care of your body.

Here are seven ways to overcome your fear of the dentist.

1. Educate yourself.

Dental fear often springs from incomplete or old information, and simple education can go a long way. Pain control has evolved and improved markedly in recent years, and you will find that your biggest fears are totally unfounded.

2. Choose a caring dentist.

The dentist you choose can soothe your existing fears – or make them stronger. More than any medical professional, finding a great dentist is very important to conquering your fear.

3. Use meditation and visualization techniques.

Relaxation can soothe nearly any fear, including fear of the dentist. As your appointment approaches, work on relaxation, meditation and visualization – whatever works for you.

4. Bring a friend.

Having emotional support is vital for overcoming your fear, so ask a friend to accompany you on your dental visit. Choose someone who does not share your fear – you can lean on this person (or animal) for strength and emotional support.

5. Ask about sedation.

If you are still feeling anxious about your upcoming dental appointment, ask about sedation. This type of dentistry has been growing in popularity, and light sedation can help you cope with any remaining fears.

6. Be proactive about pain relief.

While pain control techniques have improved, you may encounter some discomfort during or after your dental procedure. Do not be afraid to ask about pain medications and other pain control techniques.

7. Talk about your fear.

Dentists know more about dental phobias than anyone, so be honest about how you are feeling and any trepidation you may have. A good dentist will walk you through those fears and help you feel more relaxed before any work begins.

The only thing we have to fear is…

Few people look forward to spending time in the dentist chair, but you do not have to dread the experience.

Avoiding dental care is a terrible option, since poor oral hygiene can harm your overall health and put you at serious risk. So instead of cancelling your next dental appointment, use the seven coping strategies above to relax – you will feel better, and so will your teeth.

Contributed by B.E. Conrad
Edited by Clifford S. Yurman


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