Dental Work and Past Sexual Trauma Triggers: Things You Can Do to Help

Posted on: 21 August 2015

If you were a victim of sexual abuse, you may find yourself triggered at seemingly unrelated moments such as when you are in a dental chair. Actually, dental appointments can often trigger PTSD symptoms due to things such as being in a room with someone who has more power than you, being in a supine position, being unable to talk or feeling restrained.

If you are experiencing sexual abuse triggers when you are at the dentist's office, you are not alone, and there are things you can do to make the situation easier for you. Take a look at these ideas:

1. Seek therapeutic help

If you are not already in therapy, consider seeking help for these feelings. If your past traumatic experiences make it nearly impossible to go to the dentist, you deserve to get help for those feelings of powerlessness, anxiety and fear. A skilled therapist can help you address those issues in general and how they affect dental work in particular.

2. Select a dental phobia dentist

If possible, when trying to select a dentist, choose one who focuses on patients with dental phobias. While these dentists do not work exclusively with sexual abuse survivors, they work with patients who have phobias for a number of reasons. As a result, these dentists know how to work calmly and caringly with patients.

There are a range of dentists you may choose. You can choose a dentist who is experienced in relaxation techniques such as hypnosis, you can look for a dentist who is certified in working with dental phobias or finally, you can look for a dentist who has studied dentophobia.

3. Consider sedation

In some cases, especially if you need emergency dental work, it may be convenient to ask for sedation in your appointment. This option works for many people who have dental phobias. However, it is not right for everyone.

If you have experienced past sexual trauma, sedation may worry you. You may, instead, prefer to stay awake and aware of what is happening. In that case, you need to explore non-medical relaxation techniques.

4. Use non-medicinal stress reduction techniques

To help yourself relax while you are in the dental chair, there are a range of relaxation techniques you can explore. During your session, use music, aromatherapy or meditation to relax you. Before your appointment, consider getting a massage or whatever makes you feel calm.

5. Create nonverbal signals with your dentist

Throughout your appointment, there may be times when you need to stop and take a break or do some deep breathing to help you get past a certain trigger or feeling. To make this possible, set up a nonverbal cue with your dentist. For example, you can make a motion with your hand if you need your dentist to stop.

For more information, contact a dental practice like Redland Bay Dental Surgery Toothwise.