Dental anxiety is not only crippling—it can also be detrimental to your overall health and dental health if it keeps you from seeing the dentist for cleanings and necessary treatments. While there are numerous ways to overcome dental anxiety, one thing that works for a lot of patients is following the "Three S" method. Here are the three steps you need to take.
Talking about any source of anxiety and stress can be incredibly helpful in getting over it. Find a friend or loved one who is willing to listen, and tell them all about your fears related to visiting the dentist. Preferably, you should talk to someone who is not afraid of seeing the dentist themselves. Hearing yourself verbalize your fears will help you realize how "silly" some of your concerns are. Plus, your friend can offer feedback, reassuring you that your fears are irrational or unfounded. If you have very severe dental anxiety, you may even want to find a therapist to talk to. They may offer some insight into the source of your fears so you have a better starting point for addressing them.
When you call to make your appointment, be honest with your dentist about your anxiety. There's nothing to be ashamed of; many patient have it, and your dentist is familiar with dealing with it. By letting your dentist know about your anxiety, they can schedule your appointment at a time when the office won't be as busy, and when the dentist has extra time to spend with you. You'll have an easier time staying calm and relaxed when the dentist is not hurrying and can take the time to talk you through everything.
If you have to have anything more than a cleaning done, look for a dentist who offers laughing gas. All this entails is the dentist placing a little mask over your nose and you inhaling nitrous oxide. The gas will make you a lot less anxious and fearful, relaxing you while the dentist works. Laughing gas wears off quickly, so you can drive yourself home from your appointment. There are no serious side effects to worry about, either, though some patients do feel a little nauseous if they're given too much gas. Ask your dentist about sedation dentistry for more information.
Remember that dental anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something you need to fight against. Get a handle on your dental anxiety by following the "Three S" method, so you can get the dental care you need.