Mention a dental appointment and no doubt you’ll hear an audible groan from someone in the room. Many people dread going to the dentist. For some it’s an irrational fear. I have that same fear about heights. Even thinking about heights can make the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet sweat.

I’ve tried to ‘push’ myself out of the fear of heights by doing things that would challenge the fear: Zip lining, slides for life, rope bridges in the rainforest and once, I went sky diving. You might think, “She’s crazy!” but my worst nightmares were falling dreams. I figured I could conquer the nightmares. When I was a Navy dentist, attached to the Marine Corp, I had to learn to rappel. I cried and stressed, thinking: “Why am I doing this?” The good thing is, because of the frequent exposure, my dreams of falling have gone away.

If you find a dental practice you like and trust plus gradually build trust, your fear of dentistry can diminish. It doesn’t ever totally go away. I understand how you feel.

It may have been a bad or painful experience that caused you to be dental phobic, or perhaps there’s no particular cause. Whatever the reason for your anxiety, your teeth and health are far too important to be neglected. Here are a few ways to help you relinquish your fear and regain control of your oral health.

Confess Your Fear. Let your dentist know that you are afraid. Ask what techniques are used in the dental office to help their patients with anxiety. They can include sedation, soothing music and calming distractions. Ask if your personal headphones are allowed. We use disposable covers for our headphones.

If there’s a specific experience that led to your fear, tell your dentist. It’s possible that there are alternative treatments in use now that weren’t an option then.
Don’t Go It Alone. Take a relative or close friend with you for support. We include the spouse, significant or friend to sit in during the consultation process. It’s nice to have someone to talk with about the information you received.

Pain-Free If Possible. There are new anesthetic techniques that help you get profound anesthesia, with less discomfort, even for those that are hard to numb. We offer Anutra and Onset (pre-buffered anesthesia) as ways to help our patients get numb and be comfortable.

Get Psyched. You may need to try some calming techniques so that you can be in a peaceful and confident state before you arrive. That could mean breathing exercises, physical exercise, or meditation to help you prepare for your visit. Or, it could be considering pre-sedation the night before, so you get a good rest. People that are rested have less discomfort.

The most important thing is to make that first step and go to the dentist. Don’t be shy about your dental anxiety, you’re not alone: Anxiety and discomfort are temporary. But a healthy smile—that’s a lifetime. We can help. Contact us at Uptown Dental and visit with Dr. Rhonda Savage. Our number is 253-857-0835. Also, visit our website at UptownDentalGigHarbor.com; you can see videos of Dr. Savage and tour our practice.