How I Cope with My Fear of the Dentist

I have been going to the dentist regularly all of my life and that’s a long time! All in all, I’ve had three dentists during my lifetime ranging from the one I started with as a child to my present dentist where I live now. During all of those years, only a few little incidents left me a little wary of dentists and so I have to keep asking myself why I am still so afraid of going to those appointments. I get so scared even if it’s just for my regular cleaning appointment and no drills are required! The only time I can remember having any discomfort was during childhood when those huge needles were used to give Novocain and as a scared little kid the dentist practically had to pry my little mouth open which I’m sure didn’t help matters. Then when I was in my twenties I cracked a tooth that required a root canal and a crown in order to fix it. Just those words alone coming out of the dentist’s mouth of what needed to be done made my heart rate go as high as it possibly could without my heart bursting out of my chest. The day came for that appointment and the routine for this back then required a total of three visits until the job was complete. Needless to say, I was literally shaking in my shoes as I sat in the chair for this procedure to begin. Oh boy, lots of Novocain to the rescue. By this time, they must have improved the needles because it didn’t hurt nearly as bad as when I was a child. However, even with the Novocain I felt a little discomfort during the worst part of this root canal, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

As the years went on, I kept going for my twice a year cleanings and the very occasional tiny cavity or filling replacements. Nothing major, right? Well, try telling me that. To me, everything is major when it comes to sitting in that dental chair! Along the way I would always try to find a way to cope with my fear of the dentist and that included listening to relaxation tapes and basically just telling myself that my fear is ridiculous and it’s time to get over it. I also tried deep breathing exercises, but that was very hard to do because as my appointment got closer and closer, I could hardly breathe at all let alone do deep breathing exercises.

A few years ago, a good friend of mine learned of my fear of the dentist and she asked me why I don’t ever get nitrous oxide when I go. She told me how great it is and that she always books her dental appointments for the end of her workday because she enjoys the relaxation effects of the nitrous oxide! Well, in all my years, no dentist ever suggested I have the nitrous oxide and I never asked. I would always ask for lots of Novocain and take it from there. Then I moved to where I am living now and had to find a new dentist. Not only did I get an excellent recommendation from a co-worker, but loved everything about the new dentist and his practice. The fact remained, though, that it was still a dentist and so when I went to him for the first time I was so scared again because a little time had passed since going to my last dentist because of the move to a new state and selling one house and buying another. To start off with, I was too scared to even pick up the phone to make my first appointment. My husband had to do that for me. He also had to drive me to the dentist as I shook so badly. I get in there and meet the dentist and just in talking he sees how nervous I am. Before he went any further or even looked in my mouth he gave me something to calm me down! Then he examined me and said that everything looks fine and set me up for my first cleaning at his office. Then I had to go home and sleep a little due to the pill I had taken to calm me down which was all for nothing. My first cleaning at his office went very well and the hygienist was wonderful. Now I finally feel really good about my new dentist and my fear started to leave more and more. I was so proud of myself for finally being rid of most of the fear. Cleanings came and went without any problems…until a tiny cavity was noticed. Oh no, all of a sudden the old heart rate shot up and fear started creeping back in. They made the appointment for me to come and have that tiny cavity taken care of which was a few days later. Again, I get there and am mad at myself for shaking uncontrollably. This is ridiculous. It’s just a tiny cavity for crying out loud. The dentist comes in and greets me very nicely. He has such a calming voice and manner, but none of that helped. Then my ears heard him ask me if I ever had nitrous oxide before! I said no, but that I had heard good things about it. He said we could try it and if I didn’t like it they could take it off. First I made sure that I could still have Novocain along with it to which he said yes.

All I can say is that since that day I am no longer afraid of the dentist! So, if you have a fear like I have had all these years, I think there are a few things you must do to resolve them. One is to find a dentist that you really like that treats his patients with kindness and compassion. Discuss your fears with the dentist and learn how they are able to keep you comfortable during any procedures you must have. Things have greatly improved in dental care and procedures can be pain free. My new dentist uses something new to give Novocain now and I don’t feel anything at all which makes me wonder if a needle is even involved! The nitrous oxide worked very well for me, too. It relaxes you, but you are still aware of everything going on around you in a good way. I described it to my husband as feeling like I knew I was in the room, but it felt like they were working on someone else. The good thing about the nitrous oxide is that once they remove the little cannula from your nose, the effects go away so it’s not like you are drugged for the rest of the day. So, next time you go to the dentist, please discuss your fears and see how they might help you so that you can become fearless too.

In all essence, I have come to find out that fearing dentists is similar to other phobias that we come across in our lives and has made me feel better after attending regular sessions of the as I have started to overcome my fears in the long run.