You’re supposed to go at least once a year, but for many Aussies visiting the dentist can be a pretty daunting experience.
Personally, going to the dentist never scared me – I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through four years of orthodontic work (complete with that super cool headgear) if it had.
But, as I’ve gotten older – and had to start making my own appointments – I realise it’s definitely not something I enjoy. Those drilling noises, not being able to talk or breathe properly. And don’t get me started on the fact that having someone so close to your mouth seems super personal and kinda weird.
As a young kid, I remember going to the dentist with my mum and watching her try to hold it together for me, despite her fear and discomfort.
And for a lot of people, it’s a lot worse than just the discomfort and dislike of it all – it’s a legitimate phobia – odontophobia, to be specific.
For some people with odontophobia, past negative experiences have shaped their fear (like the pain from a previous procedure) and have left them shaken for life. For others, it’s just a super intense dislike. Strong enough to make you cancel, postpone and make excuses.
In reality though, there is nothing to worry about.
‘Why relax?’ you might ask.
Well, in Australia it takes at least seven years of study to become a dentist. You can be pretty sure your dentist knows what they are doing.
Dentistry is a science of love. I mean, it’s not often that a person enrols to do seven years of study in a field they hate.
And then, once dentistry students finally become dentists they see multiple patients, five days a week year-round. In other words, dentists are experienced professionals. They are highly educated and truly want the best for their patients – including you.
Basically, to make it through your appointment you need to calm down.
Take some deep, deep breaths. Wiggle your toes. Count backwards by threes from 500. Just do something to distract yourself.
To me, it seems that the bigger risk lies in not going to the dentist at all – which usually motivates me enough to go. I figure, if I make regular visits it will help to keep my teeth healthy and prevent major procedures in the future – which seems way scarier. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the more regularly I go, the better I get to know my dentist and therefore the more comfortable I feel around her.
So next time you’re at the dentist, try reassuring yourself.
Logically, the easiest way for a dentist to do a great job is if their patient is cool, calm and collected. If you are hyperventilating or nervously talking, you might be preventing your dentist from doing their best work. Personally, I know I work best with minimal noise and zero distractions. I don’t know how well I’d do my job if I had to keep someone else calm whilst doing it.
The biggest takeaway from this? The number one thing you can do to get the best experience possible is to relax and let your dentist do the work.