It’s really common to have a fear of the dentist. It affects lots of people of all ages, and can be caused by a past traumatic experience, tooth sensitivity, anxiety, triggers like the high-pitched noise of drills or even hearing dentist horror stories (whether factual or fictional). Dental anxiety is very real and can cause people to postpone and avoid dental appointments and treatments. Logically they know this is a bad idea as it can lead to much bigger oral health problems but combatting a phobia about visiting the dentist can be tough. So here are our six top tips for overcoming fear of the dentist.
1. Talk to your dental team. Be 100% open and honest with us and explain what you are afraid of and what your triggers are. Never feel embarrassed or worried about your anxieties. We understand that these are very real for you and we don’t judge. Remember that we can’t help you if we don’t know how you are feeling, so share your concerns and together we can find ways to help minimise them.
2. Remind yourself that most, if not all, dental procedures are pain-free. Times really have changed – long gone are the days when dental clinics were nicknamed the ‘murder house’! With major advances in technology, equipment, pain relief and anaesthetic options, today dental treatments are skilfully managed by your dentist to be painless. You can trust them to keep you comfortable and pain-free.
3. Establish a control system. Sometimes fear of the dentist is caused by feeling that you are not in control. Having someone poking about in your mouth with sharp instruments and noisy equipment can definitely make you feel vulnerable. So before you begin your treatment establish a control system, such as raising your hand when you want your dentist to stop. This helps you to feel more in control of the situation and minimise your feelings of vulnerability and anxiety.
4. Use any available distractions. Take your mind off your dental treatment. Many dental surgeries have TV screens so make sure you use these or ask if music can be played. Your appointment may only be a 20-minute check-up but if you suffer from dental anxiety this can feel like an hour so don’t be shy to ask for the TV to be put on.
5. We offer oral sedatives which are very safe and effective for overcoming fear of the dentist.
6. Work on reducing teeth sensitivity. If your nervousness stems from having sensitive teeth, there are several great options you can try to reduce teeth sensitivity. Sensitivity-reducing toothpaste is continually being improved upon, and there are specialist products available like tooth mousse. There are also products that can increase sensitivity that you should definitely avoid, so talk to us about which oral care products we recommend to suit your circumstances.