OVERCOME your fear of the dentist
Being afraid of the dentist might sound like a cliché. However for many people this is a reality. In fact, according to the Oral Health Foundation, around half of UK adults admit to being scared of the dentist. Around 12% of us have an extreme and often debilitating phobia.
Do you feel mild anxiety or an all-consuming fear that prevents you from attending dental appointments? Learning to overcome this nervousness will allow for regular check-ups. This means that potential problems are caught early on before they escalate to something that requires extensive treatment, higher costs and sometimes pain.
Here are our top tips for getting yourself on the path towards being comfortable in the dentists’ chair…
Use social media
You can use the power of social media to follow your own dental practice, or search for a new one if needed. This allows you the opportunity to browse images of the practice and the team. You can see some of the dental work and the type of treatments the practice provides. You can even message them with questions if you want to. In this way, you can get to know your dental practice right from the comfort of your own home. This can help you to feel more at ease and ready to step through the doors for an appointment.
Many dental practices will allow patients to come in to meet the team and have a look around prior to booking an appointment. This allows you to arrive safe in the knowledge that you won’t be having any treatment at all this time. It’s simply an exercise to familiarise yourself with the surroundings. Many dental practices encourage patients to do this if they feel it will help them. So just phone up and ask if and when this would be possible. There really is no need to be scared of the dentist!
Once you are comfortable with the surroundings of the practice, you need to ensure that you trust and feel at ease with your dentist, too.
Ask if you can book a consultation rather than a dental check-up, and if it makes you feel more relaxed, perhaps request that this is conducted in an office or room other than the surgery itself. Tell the dental team that you are nervous about dental appointments and they will usually be more than happy to help you and suggest useful tips that have worked with other patients too.
Scared of the Dentist?
Before you arrive, think about the things that worry or scare you most about the dentist and write down a list – try to address these with the dentist to work out strategies together that will make you feel more relaxed. Use this consultation time to ask the dentist lots of questions, because filling in the blank spaces in your mind will help you to feel more prepared for an actual appointment.
Don’t feel like you need to book in for long appointments and lots of treatment all in one go. Instead ask your dentist the best way to split up any required (or desired cosmetic) treatment into shorter appointments that are more manageable. A dental check-up, followed by a hygiene appointment perhaps a week later is a great place to start – small and steady wins the race!
Dental fear is extremely common and you should never feel embarrassed about speaking up and telling your dental team about how you feel. Sometimes, simply knowing that your dental team care and understand your anxieties is enough to set you on the right path towards overcoming them, so start by explaining your concerns and asking for their help and suggestions.