Many people have a fear of visiting the dentist. I sure did! I was afraid for over 20 years of the sounds the drill would make, the thought of that thing (who even knows what it’s called?) scraping against my teeth for plaque, and all that other not so fun stuff. Now, granted there are many reasons for this fear, but the most common is a simple misunderstanding of what happens during an actual visit to the dentist. Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking that it is only children that deal with this fear. It is actually quite common for adults to have a fear of going to the dentist. The best way to combat this fear in children or adults is to become educated about what happens during regular appoints, what types of appointments there, and how to prepare for the appointment. There are also many cases of a person’s fear stemming from a bad experience at some point in their lives. This experience may have been an unpleasant procedure, an unkind dentist, a mishap with numbing or anesthesia, or a painful procedure. Consider that there are also times when this bad experience is only perceived as bad due to an underlying unease. Again, the best cure for this fear is educating yourself on a typical experience rather than the unpleasant one that is stuck in your head. Here, you will find the very tools that you need to gain this education. Listed here will be information about the types of appointments, how best to prepare for a trip to the dentist, and what a typical experience is like.

The first thing to consider is how to prepare for an appointment. Before beginning preparations, it is important to remember one thing. Many people want to look up pictures of the tools that dentists use when preparing for an appointment. Whatever you do, do not engage in this desire. Many of the tools look scary, especially when you do not know what exactly they are used for. This often leads to furthering the fear instead of alleviating it. A tool may look frightening but in reality, it may be nothing more the way to suck up extra spit that may gather in your mouth. Without knowledge of the tool’s specific use, people often scare themselves worse with these searches. Instead of engaging in these fruitless searches, take the time to make sure all of your relevant documents are in order. Each time you visit a doctor of any type, including dentists, you will have to show your insurance card. If you are a new patient, there may be additional documents needed as well. If you do not know what all you need to bring, do not hesitate to call and ask. The receptionist will be more than happy to help you. Place all of the documents that you need in a manila envelope to keep them safe and together.

Speaking of insurance cards, you should always make sure the dentist that you are visiting is covered by your insurance. If they are not, the visit may be quite expensive. Of course, not all insurance companies even cover dental work, but quite a few do. Again, if you are not sure what is covered, call the company and ask. If you know dental work is covered, the next step is to find out which dentists are cover as not all will be. Most insurance providers supply a list on their website of who is covered. If the dentist’s name is not on this list, they are not covered. As difficult as it may be, this may be the time to switch dentists and find one that is covered. Unfortunately, many towns only have one dentist, therefore, some travel may be involved to find a dentist that is covered. Thankfully, most dentist offices are more than willing to help you make sure everything is in order. An example of a great dental office that I personally visited, (and helped me get over my fears) is Swartout Dental. If you live near this office in Indiana, make sure to give them a call since they made me feel welcome, and not uneasy at all.

When scheduling your appointment there is one rule to help with fear. Always choose a low-stress time for the appointment. The more stress you are under during the rest of the day or even week, the worse the appointment will be. This is because the fear will place a great deal of stress on the body and any added stress will make everything worse. An overabundance of stress can even lead to illness or injury. It can also lead to a panic attack during or before the appointment. Besides scheduling during low-stress times, it is also a very good idea to give yourself extra time before the appointment to breathe and meditate to mentally prepare yourself as best as you can.

There are several different types of appointments. The first is your average, run of the mill checkup. Absolutely nothing frightening will happen during this appointment. Even if it is determined that you need some type of procedure, the dentist will want to schedule that for another day. Even if they suggest doing it then, feel free to ask for it to happen another day. All that will happen during this appointment is a physical examination of your teeth and gums, dental x-rays, and a cleaning. The x-rays are just an image and cannot cause any pain. The same goes for the cleaning. The next type of appointment is for extractions or fillings. These are simple procedures that do not require you to be unconscious. You will know what is coming before you get to the office, so you will have time to prepare yourself. There are several tools that will be used, but they are all necessary. The dentist will numb the area when necessary so pain should not be an issue. Next is the type of procedure that you will need to be unconscious for. The best thing about this type of appointment is that you will not know what tools are being used or if there is pain involved because you will be asleep.

Finally, if you are frightened at the thought of the dentist, share your feelings. Most dentists will be more than happy to help you overcome your fear. They will be patient and walk you through everything step-by-step so that there are no surprises. If the dentist you are seeing does not react in an appropriate way when you let them know about your fear, find a new dentist. Any professional that is not willing to take the time to be kind and help you get through the appointment does not need your business.