What to do about the fear of the dentist?

Dental phobia is one of the most common phenomena not only in Germany. According to study results, about 1/4 of all respondents claim that a visit to the dentist does not trigger any negative emotions in them. This coincidentally corresponds approximately to the proportion of people who have a demonstrably reduced sense of pain. The large, regrettable remainder of mankind is constantly desperately looking for more or less successful methods to somehow suppress the great “fear of the white man”.

Some, for example, do not find it so bad that the appointment they can make with the receptionist is infinitely far in the future, others bravely defy their unbearable toothache in order to delay the more than necessary visit to the dentist for a few more days. And when it is time for the dentist to say: “Please take a seat here”, then it rises, the panic fear, in more severe cases nausea comes along immediately and uncontrolled trembling is overlaid by outbreaks of sweat, the little heart sees a way out in the rapid heartbeat.

This is what it looks like, the unfounded fear of the dentist, which is responsible for so many people postponing small dental problems for far too long. The problems then develop into serious denture damage, the mildest consequence of which is only total tooth loss, but always including a reduction in quality of life. It is really necessary to break this vicious circle, and that can be done with several small steps.

Step one is not to be ashamed of your fear. It is perfectly normal not to want to get into an uncomfortable situation of losing control and being at the mercy of another person. By the way, there are many people who had to endure quite merciless treatment by school dentists as a child. An unconscious germ of fear was certainly laid out.

Step no. 2: The first “non-binding” appointment with the dentist is agreed only once to take stock of the situation. The measures that the dentist then recommends can be listened to and thought about, but they do not have to be carried out immediately. However, this only works if you don’t already bend over your toothache. For this reason, the half-yearly check-ups are rightly recommended.

Step no. 3: The dentist’s appointment should be arranged in such a way that there is no further (time) stress on this day and afterwards you can relax at home and think about it in peace, if necessary talk to your partner and decide. By the way, there are numerous herbal teas that have a calming and relaxing effect, e.g. tea from valerian root, passion flower herb, lavender or hop cone. After enjoying them, you go to your appointment floating, smiling with great self-confidence.

Step 4: It is no problem at all to talk openly with your dentist about your fears. Your dentist knows this and understands it. He will then explain each of his movements and instruments in advance. So that you do not hand over control to a stranger, agree on a hand signal that causes the doctor to pause in order to give you time to gather again.

If the teeth or dentition are in very poor condition, the treatment can also be carried out under general anaesthesia. Today, the anaesthetics are so well tolerated that a complete restoration of the teeth lasting several hours is possible almost without the risk of anaesthesia. An alternative is the nose mask for nitrous oxide sedation. This makes the patient very relaxed and fearless, but still responsive, and the dosage can be easily adjusted to the patient’s weight and blood volume.

Good results in combating anxiety or panic in front of the dentist are also repeatedly achieved with hypnosis. Often just a few sessions are enough. However, not every person can be hypnotized, because this procedure of “mental assumption of power” must be allowed with great confidence to the doctor.

In addition, there are so-called behavioural therapies through which the patient learns various techniques, e.g. progressive muscle relaxation, in the sense of special stress management. This training enables the patient to endure the treatment without anxiety and quasi relaxed, without anesthesia.

We are all only human beings, and fear is part of our nature, it has its justification and in some cases can save lives. But even during or after a visit to the dentist, the wise Russian saying “The devil isn’t as bad as you paint him” proves to be true again and again.

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Christina Cherry
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