How to survive a trip to the dentist when you hate it!

If you were to ever ask me what doctor I hate going to the most I wouldn’t tell you any of my specialists(I don’t mind seeing my specialists unless I know something is wrong then I might be more bothered by it ) but would say without hesitation the dentist! I have had a couple of bad experiences and zero drive to go back but after a year and a half of not going, I figured it was time and had relativity positive experience! I have never liked visiting the dentist not that I have anything personal against them I definitely do not I just become anxious when I can’t see what is going on. The last two dentists I have visited prior to this one have not been good experiences because I felt they were dishonest and just wanted me to go and get much of unnecessary dental work done which made me wildly unmotivated to ever want to go back so I didn’t for quite some time. I have nothing against getting dental work done if there is a reason for it and it’s absolutely necessary. Going to another dentist was not easy for me because I was not sure if it was going to be another bad experience but so far I am hopeful. I still get anxiety from these visits and probably always will but this experience was different so there is hope for change. If you hate the dentist getting through the anxiety can be the biggest battle and if you currently battle with it here are few tips that may help.

Find a dentist you trust– One of the most important pieces of advice I  can give you today is to find a dentist who is honest and that you can trust. If you cannot trust your dentist you will not be motivated to schedule your yearly cleaning and plague will build up raising your risk of heart disease! I hate having my teeth cleaned and get very anxious when I need to have any sort of dental work done so when my last dentist felt my gums were receding and that I should see a gum specialist it made the anxiety I already get from regular visits a whole a lot worse. Personally, I didn’t feel that was an accurate diagnosis or that there was anything wrong with my mouth that needed immediate attention because it didn’t hurt or anything but I was wildly unmotivated to ever go back to the dentist and didn’t for quite some time. I finally decided I can’t avoid this problem forever so I went to someone else to see if they felt the same way and luckily they did not. I have some bleeding on my gums that I should probably pay a little more attention to but they did not find anything as simple as cavity and going to a gum specialist would have been completely unnecessary because I can resolve this issue by simply paying extra attention to my gums.

Practice your breathing-  I don’t know anyone who likes to have mouth Xray’s but when you have a gagging reflex having some device put in the back of your throat to take a picture it is a little desirable. Xrays are uncomfortable for anybody but are necessary for your dentist to see in order to catch any problems that may be of concern because sometimes problems can be missed by simply just looking into your mouth. The good news I have not gagged the last two times I have had mouth Xtrays so I think I grew out of it but it isn’t something that just came naturally. There have been times I have had Xrays and wanted to gag and almost did but I have trained myself not to through proper breathing and telling myself that I can do this. For many years I convinced myself this was not possible and I just had to accept that I had a gagging reflex and that was just life. I even went to a dentist that refused to do any Xrays or give me any mouth wash because I gagged so much and they were afraid I would swallow it. Then I realized this was the wrong mindset and all I needed to do to overcome this was to take control of my breathing and my mindset by stop telling myself it wasn’t possible and that I can’t because I can! There are many things in life that are physically impossible for me and as unpleasant as it is to have an Xray it is not one of those things that are completely out of the cards for me.

Stop focusing on the negatives I have always had anxiety when getting my teeth cleaned and for the longest time got into this terrible habit of thinking about all the mistakes my hygienist could make. The likelihood of your hygienist making a terrible mistake that you would need dental work to have repaired is so unbelievably rare that I don’t even think it has ever happened. Thinking that way will only worsen your anxiety and the only way to take control of it is to stop thinking about all the mistakes your hygienist could make but probably won’t. Instead of thinking about everything that could go wrong think about all the things that could go right! Go to your happy and place and think about all the places you would rather be other than the dentist’s office. When you put your focus on something else and aren’t so concerned about what is going on it will make you less anxious and the visit will go by much faster than it usually does.

Get friendly with the staff- If you are anxious about your dental appointment of the most important thing you can do for yourself to lessen that anxiety is to simply get friendly with the staff. You don’t have to turn into social hour it’s probably best if you didn’t because there are other patients to be seen but having a conversation with your hygienist for a few minutes about something other than teeth won’t kill you. For the longest time, I thought the solution was to do minimal talking with the hygienist and they would be done faster so that is what I did. Yes if you don’t talk your hygienist they will get done faster but that method won’t always work and sometimes they might want to have a short conversation and if you give the impression you don’t want to and are only there to get your teeth cleaned then it will come off as rude and there is no reason to act that way. Avoiding conversation is not the solution to better anxiety but sometimes it’s the complete opposite!

Is the dentist my favorite place to go now that I had one good experience? Nope! I still hate and I think I always will. There is nothing about having my teeth cleaned that is satisfying to me and if you were ever to watch me have them cleaned you would see what I mean. I shake a lot because I am anxious but that is not the only reason that I shake. The noise of the scraper that removes plaque messes with my head and I am so fortunate that the pain is not long-lasting and immediately goes away.  In my experience, once the pain starts it’s not easy to get it back to normal, and sometimes it can take several weeks before I can get it to a point where I feel good again. Some disabled people can’t go to some doctor’s offices such as the dentist because of inaccessibility but if it is an option you want to make sure that it is a priority so that you can avoid any major heart problems like heart disease. Take control of your anxiety during your cleanings because it is an essential part of taking care of your health and it only needs to be done twice a year. No excuses! Do you have anxiety when visiting your dentist? What coping strategies do you use to get through your appointment?

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