How To Survive the Dentist
Okay, I will admit it. I get panic attacks and one of the things that causes them is an upcoming trip to the dentist. I know most folks are worried about pain or drilling. Not me so much. What sends me wanting to run is the fact someone is coming at me with a needle. This fear has not improved with age, even though the needles are sharper and less painful than in my youth. Imagine if you will a whole doctor's office chasing around a 15 year old to try to give her a mumps and measles and rubella shot. Heck, I already had the mumps. Why did I need a shot? Of course, in the end, the shot people won out.
The truth is that fears aside, it is really stupid to put off that dentist visit. The problems your teeth have do not improve on their own, and could lead to your having quite a bit of pain. Also, infections in your teeth can lead to ear, brain, heart and other disorders leading to teeth removal. Adult teeth are not easy to remove. I know from personal experience. They also can hurt several weeks after the procedure. So, its time to adopt your mantra for going to the dentist “The pain I save will be my own.” I will give you a list of secrets for getting yourself to the dentist.
First, you need to schedule an appointment. This may be harder than you think, but the most important thing you want is a dentist who can see you fairly soon and is a “painless” dentist. You don't need to spend three months thinking about this appointment. Get it scheduled within the next week. No need to put it off.
Why a “painless” dentist? Truthfully, all dentists are somewhat painful. Some dentists, however, feature extra pain relief for squeamish patients and this is what you want. Various techniques include music, laughing gas and a combination of both. Some dentists simply use a local before giving you the injections to numb your mouth. This local improves things, and might work for a small filling, but I have found that for my type of deep panic, I need more than this. I find that it is worth the extra cost for the procedure.
Next, find someone to take you to the dentist. A lover is best to hold your hand, and have them stay with you until you are under the gas. When you no longer care if they leave, they can leave and wait for you. Your lover's main job will be to catch you and bring you back if you try to run away.
Now, you will need techniques to get you through the pre-appointment days. I use several techniques to help with this. I use any one that works. If one isn't helping I go to another. First, I keep congratulating myself on how brave I am to be facing the dentist. Then, I have everyone in the family congratulate me too. This really does help.
If I don't care about bravery at a given moment, I use the technique of imagining how proud I will be when this is all behind me. After all, it is not heart surgery is it? And if you have scheduled your appointment in a timely manner, it will be behind you soon. I think about what I am going to wear, about walking into the office, and being a relaxed patient. (Of course I am not, but I lie to myself about lots of other things, don't I?)
I usually set up something to do after the appointment that is special. Remember, however, you may be limited in your happy activities for several days after your dentist visit. One I found that works well is buying a DVD to watch at home that I am looking forward to. I visualize coming home from the dentist, putting my feet up and relaxing with the movie. Don't forget to take your pain medicine as well. If you like to read, or do puzzles, or play games on your computer, these work well too.
Another technique that helps is preparing congratulating e-mails to send out to all your friends and other acquaintances. The nice thing about e-mail is you can leave out the parts where your lover had to drag you into the office. Look the hero.
I also am very good to myself. I try to do at least one, but more activities that will make me totally forget about the appointment for awhile. I have used shopping at new store, visiting a new recreation area, taking a nature walk, and getting lost in my favorite bookstores. All of these were a tremendous help.
Sometimes I think about how I simply don't want to look whimpy to my kids and relatives. Truthfully my kids are all okay going to the dentist. I am the one with the problems, so naturally, I usually undergo most of the medical procedures in our household.
When nothing else is working, try sitting down quietly and saying your mantra over and over until your anxiety has lessened. In your heart, you know visiting the dentist is a good thing.
Lastly, I don't recommend using eating as a way of coping. You don't need the extra pounds. Eating sweet things will usually hurt your teeth anyway. But if you do increase your eating, you will find that if you schedule your appointment quickly, it will work out. Usually, after your appointment, you may find yourself limited in what you can eat for several days to balance this all out.
Remember, the most important thing is to get yourself to the dentist in the first place, and then keep right on going. The pain you save will be your own.