There is a lot that can be done for easing a fear of the dentist that doesn’t involve special gadgets or medications.
Here are some examples:
- using non-threatening language (and body language)
- stop and coping signals
- distraction techniques such as listening to music, watching TV, closing your eyes, holding a soft toy, knitting, etc.
- making the physical environment phobic-friendly
- interactive approaches based on tell-show-do techniques (direct interaction)
- taking scheduled breaks and counting
- positive reinforcement (making positive comments and generally being supportive)
- relaxation techniques (including breathing techniques and guided imagery)
Exposure and rehearsals are also frequently used, both in formal and in informal ways, and a few dentists even offer hypnosis.
A lot boils down to personality characteristics – some people are more compassionate than others, and we all know people who just hava knack for making others feel at ease. Another major factor is trust – dentists who strongly believe in your ability to cope well are likely to instill confidence in you.
You can find more information on these psychological strategies by following the links above. Each page also includes practical tips for dentists, which can be used straight away.