Fear of dentists is common, and stems not so much from the pain as from the lack of control patients feel in the dentist’s chair. Some relate their fear to a previous bad dental experience while others dread unpleasant side effects, like mood swings, anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress, or substance abuse. Whatever your excuse for delaying visits to your dentist, you should be facing and dealing with your fears rather than compromising on your oral health.

To begin with, you should know you are not alone in this experience. Millions of people avoid their dentists, and around 9% to 15% Americans (around 30 to 40 million) skip their visits because of fear and anxiety. Follow these tips for an improved perception of your dental experience and help fight your nervousness and mistrust.

  • Find a considerate dentist. Ask for help from your family and friends’ in finding a dentist who is both experienced and can handle anxious patients.
  • Once you have found a suitable dentist, pay them a visit. This will help you get a good idea of the environment and familiarize yourself with the staff. Meet the dentist and tell him about your fears beforehand so they can prepare for your check-up in a way that is comfortable for you.
  • Go for an early morning appointment so you do not perch on it for long.
  • The first day will usually be a simple check-up so don’t worry about going under a needle or drill. Consider this first appointment as a chance to acquaint with the dentist.
  • Bring a loved one with you so you have plenty of moral support.
  • Bring your music player to help you relax better.
  • Settle for a sign with the dentist to let them know when you need to take a break and want them to stop. This could be as straightforward as finger pointing, and will help you feel more at ease and in control.
  • If you see this as helpful, start off with minor procedures, like teeth cleaning and polishing, to help you get the hang of it. Work up to major treatment once you are satisfied and have built up enough trust with your dentist.

Keep in mind the positive results you will get in the form of improved oral hygiene and a confident personality. This should help you go through the process easily.