fearFor people who live with fear of the dentist Grand Rapids can be a difficult place. Think about it – Midwesterners in general are a cordial and happy bunch, and friendly smiles are everywhere. But even in West Michigan, 5-8% of the population suffers from dental fear and is much more likely to have emergency dental issues due to avoiding the dentist. It’s hard to smile about that.

  • For certain people, the prospect of a trip to the dentist can be terrifying, and there are many reasons why that may be.
  • An individual may have had a bad dental experience in the past, perhaps with an unnecessarily painful dental procedure. It’s also common for dental fears to pass from one generation to the next, as a fearful parent inculcates the same phobia in their child.
  • The anxiety could be related to other past experiences, such as PTSD or abuse.
  • For a child, a fear can develop due to the situation of being confined with a stranger in an unfamiliar place, and having instruments inserted into their mouth.
  • A person may have trouble breathing through their nose or general anxiety related to breathing, or may suffer from a highly sensitive gag reflex.

Whatever the reason, if you suffer from dental fear, there are a number of ways to address it, and you may benefit from trying more than one technique. Discovering the most effective remedy often depends on the root of your fear. Here are some general suggestions:

  1. Visit the dental office in advance. Talk about your specific fear, and familiarize yourself with the office and staff. When you schedule an appointment, consider scheduling a simple cleaning first, and choose an early appointment so you don’t think about it all day.
  2. Be assertive about your needs. That may mean asking to have the chair less reclined, or asking if you can hold the tools if you’re afraid of them. Taking control can often help alleviate fears.
  3. Make a plan to manage your pain by discussing it with the dentist beforehand, and perhaps establishing a hand signal for when you need a break.
  4. Use relaxation techniques. Close your eyes, relax your muscles, or use breathing techniques. Try visualizing a peaceful place.
  5. Bring along a trusted friend who is comfortable with going to the dentist.
  6. Bring along some relaxing music to listen to.
  7. If you are concerned about being able to breathe, nasal strips can help.

Whether you need emergency dental care or you are considering setting up a regular check-up, contact Dental Associates of West MI, and please let us know if you have dental fear or anxiety so we can work with you. Call us today at 616-554-5970.

Photo: Pradheep Kumbhashi

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