They say that laughter is the best medicine, and for a good reason. Studies have shown that laughter helps release endorphins, improves circulation and blood pressure, and over the long term, boosts the immune system. Laughter can alleviate anxiety and tension, and is often the perfect antidote for awkward, uncomfortable and stressful situations.
While there is nothing funny about dental fear, humor can be incredibly helpful in soothing a patient’s anxiety. Fear of going to the dentist is relatively common. For some, it may just cause mild anxiety, for others, it is a phobia and can result in going years without visiting the dentist. This may be difficult for some to understand, but if you suffer from dental fear, you know how difficult it can be.
There are several strategies for dealing with this fear. The most important, of course, is finding a dentist who is experienced in dealing with fearful patients. A good dentist can make all the difference in the world. Not all dentists have this skill, and in fact, for some people their dental fear began with a negative experience with an unfriendly or rough dentist. Dental professionals who know and understand dental anxiety will often advertise this. If you are searching for a dentist, ask specifically if the staff specializes in patients with dental fear. Get referrals from friends, and talk to them about their positive experiences.
Aside from the right dentist, many find relaxation techniques such as meditation and distraction to be helpful in dealing with their fear. In addition to these methods, other recent studies have humor may be the most effective tool for easing the fears of patients. There are a few reasons for this. As stated above, laughter has a relaxing effect and it eases stress and anxiety. Just as important though, is its effect on the dentist-patient relationship. When the dentist is able to joke and laugh with their patients, it creates a more common, equal ground that allows the patient to feel understood and at ease. If you have extreme anxiety, it may be helpful to bring a supportive and humorous friend with you to the dentist. This will help keep you distracted (another technique) while in the waiting room. If the sounds of dental instruments make you uncomfortable, listening to relaxing music through headphones may be helpful. Don't hesitate to communicate your feelings to your dentist and their staff. They are providing a service to you, which is their job. Don't be afraid to ask questions, to have things explained, and to tell them if you are uncomfortable. Dental fear can and does get better over time. Finding a dentist you trust and feel comfortable with can make you laugh and may just make your fear a thing of the past.