BEAT ANXIETY & FEAR OF THE DENTIST
Having a fear of going to the dentist is much more common than you think. As a therapist and counselor I am constantly working with my clients to get over fears that they have. Clients that I have worked with that have this fear often times feel this way because they associate pain with seeing a dentist. They feel anxiety just thinking about going and even go so far as avoiding the dentist altogether. Statistics show that people fear going to the dentist more than any other type of doctor. Dental care is important therefore it is critical to assess your own level of fear and to overcome it.
As a therapist and counselor I always tell my clients that it is important to know the root causes of their fears. There are multiple causes for dental fear. They include:
- Having a previous bad experience while at the dentist
- Being embarrassed about the condition of your teeth if you have been neglecting them
- Fear of invasive procedures that you think will result in pain
- Fear of needles that the dentist might have to use to give you anesthesia
There are a few techniques and methods that you can try to overcome your fear of the dentist. One is to take control of your visit. Be open and honest with your dentist and let them know you are having anxiety about being there. Ask them to go step by step and check in with your comfort level before proceeding. For example you can ask your dentist to start off slow and to just examine your teeth with a mirror. Then give them the ok to move on to the next step and continue this check in process all the way until you are done. Come up with a signal so that at any time your anxiety becomes too overwhelming they will stop and give you a short break.
Bring a friend, close relative, or loved one with you to your next appointment. Make sure that this person does not have a fear of the dentist themselves. Ask your dentist if the person you bring can sit in the room while you are being worked on. Knowing that they are there will bring you a sense of comfort and support. Make plans with this person to do something that you really enjoy after your appointment so you have something to look forward to and reward yourself with.
Another method is to use distraction techniques. Bring your ipod or cell phone with you and a pair of headphones to your next appointment. Download an interesting audible book or podcast to listen to during your appointment. This will help slow down or eliminate any negative thoughts that might be causing you anxiety while the dentist is working on you. You can also look for a dentist that has televisions in their patient rooms so you can watch something while you are getting work done.
Relaxation techniques can be extremely helpful to practice before and during your appointment. Before you leave the house practice diaphragmatic breathing and visualize yourself feeling comfortable, confident, and free of any tension while at the dentist. Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a great way that you can get your body to relax and eliminate anxiety while you are getting work done. PMR is a relaxation exercise in which you tense muscle regions of your body and then release.
ABOUT ESSENCE OF HEALING COUNSELING:
Roberta Alves is a therapist and counselor at the Essence of Healing Counseling in downtown Ft. Lauderdale. She is a Certified Anxiety Specialist and uses a scientific and evidence based type of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Research has shown that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is proven to be extremely effective in treating anxiety. Roberta is truly passionate about the work she does and loves serving her clients in Ft. Lauderdale and the surrounding South Florida areas. If you want to learn the proven techniques to overcome your anxiety, schedule an appointment today.