There are many ways to overcome one’s fear of the dentist. First of all, don’t wait until the tooth hurts. It makes it more difficult for the dentist to get you numb. Plus the pain leading up to the appointment can be associated with the dental visit itself. The dental appointment itself is really nothing to be fearful of as long as good local anesthetic technique is used to numb the area. Try to get a good night’s sleep and avoid caffeinated drinks that could raise the anxiety level. For the novocaine injection, try to relax your muscles, especially your hands. Try this the next time you are in rush hour traffic and notice that your hands are tightly clasped to the steering wheel, consciously relax your grip and notice how the rest of your body will follow suit. Another trick is to find something on the ceiling to fixate on. We have televisions in our ceiling. This way patients can either watch cable TV or a serene aquarium movie to help keep their mind on things other than the injection. By flooding one’s brain with visual stimuli and concentrating on relaxing the hands, the anesthetic injection experience can be minimized greatly. Once the initial numbness has been achieved, further injections can be done relatively pain free. The remainder of the appointment should be a piece of cake and should be fear free.
Fear of the dentist is a very common problem. It is not unusual for one to be somewhat apprehensive before one’s dental appointment, however, a higher level of anxiety can be a result of a real dental phobia. Dental phobia can cause a person to avoid dental treatment. Many dental phobias start with a bad experience at the dentist, especially as a child. In our office, we never do any potentially painful treatment without first numbing the area. Since we are a sedation practice, we see a high number of dental phobic patients. The common source of their dental fears came from an experience where their dentist kept drilling on their tooth even though the individual indicated that it hurt. Another common problem comes from the patient delaying treatment until they are in extreme pain. Not only is it extremely difficult to get someone numb in that situation, but also even if you can get the tooth numb, just the experience alone can be enough to cause the patient to avoid further dental treatment.