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Are you afraid of the dentist? Do you know someone who is? The Chicago Dental Society surveyed more than 600 of its members and collected dentists' top 10 tips to help people overcome their fears and take charge of their oral health.
The survey was conducted for the Chicago Dental Society's 139th annual Midwinter Meeting, which will bring more than 30,000 dentists and dental hygienists to Chicago this February.
1. Discuss your fears with the dentist. Tell the dentist about your fears. This information will help the dentist determine how to best manage and address those fears. And by letting the dentist know exactly why the experience is difficult for you, you will feel more control in the examination chair.
2. Remember that dental procedures have greatly improved in the past few years. Dental technologies today are vastly different from what they were in the past. Modern dentistry offers new methods and treatment options to make you feel comfortable and to make procedures nearly painless.
3. Ask the dentist to walk you through the procedure. Your dentist can explain the entire procedure to you beforehand, as well as walk you through step-by-step while the procedure is being performed. You always have the right to fully understand the work being done on your teeth.
4. Consider additional medication to relax. Many dentists recommend nitrous oxide, sedation or anti-anxiety medicine for extremely nervous patients. Find out if your dentist offers these options to help you get through the visit.
5. Find a dentist you are comfortable with and establish a trusting relationship. There are many personalities in the dental profession. Find a dentist who makes you feel at ease and is willing to work with you on your fears.
6. Breathe deeply and try to relax. Some dentists recommend practicing relaxation techniques before and during the appointment. Other dentists find that listening to music, or scheduling an appointment first thing in the morning, before the stresses of the day add up, also help patients to relax.
7. Talk to the dentist about stopping if you're uncomfortable. Many of the dentists surveyed said they establish a signal to “stop” with their patients. This puts you in control of the procedure and alerts the dentist if you're uncomfortable or need to take a break during the appointment.
8. Visit the dentist regularly to prevent problems. For fearful patients, just going for a check up can be nerve-wracking, but the more you go to the dentist for routine cleanings, the more likely you are to avoid larger problems that result in extensive procedures.
9. Visit the office and talk to the staff before your first appointment. You should feel free to meet with the dentist and to ask questions before scheduling your appointment. Meeting the dentist and his or her staff first will help you find a dentist you like and trust.
10. Go slow. Dentists are happy to go slow with nervous patients. If possible, make sure your first visit is a simple one, such as a cleaning. This will help you build your relationship with the dentist before going in for a more difficult procedure.
A tradition of working for the dental profession. The Chicago Dental Society was organized in 1864 and incorporated in 1878. The objective of the Chicago Dental Society is to encourage the improvement of the health of the public, to promote the art and science of dentistry and to represent the intrest of the members of the profession and the public that it serves.
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