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Whether from watching the dentist scene Little Shop of Horrors one too many times, from hearing nightmarish stories from friends and family about trips to the dentist, or maybe even from personal experience, many people have developed a fear of visiting a dentist for even a routine cleaning.
Ironically, those with dental anxiety are among the most likely to develop serious oral conditions that require the most painful and expensive treatments, since dental health care is most effective when it is preventative. If you see a dentist regularly, he or she is likely to catch any problems with your teeth or gums in their early stages, before they become serious. For this reason, overcoming your dental anxiety is extremely important in terms of your overall dental health, especially if you haven't seen a dentist for a long period of time.
The most important step in overcoming your fear is to find a dentist with whom you're comfortable communicating, as communication is the key. You need to feel comfortable explaining your fears and he or she has to be able to answer all of your questions in a reassuring way, as well as to tell you exactly what is being done every moment that he or she is in and around your mouth.
Unfortunately, there is no quick guide on how to find a good dentist, especially one who will help reassure you during your visits, so you may have to visit several until you find one with whom you're comfortable.