Dental phobia is a very real problem faced by more people than you might expect. If you’re nervous, anxious, or even frightened about coming to see us for a checkup, let alone receiving essential dental care, you likely have a phobia.
Missing out on dental treatment could seriously impact your health. The issues you face now could worsen, and you may experience dental discomfort and lose teeth. We want to help you.
Led by Dental Phobia Certified dentist Dr KP, the team at Love Teeth are supportive and friendly. We believe in providing dental care in a relaxed and painless way so you can feel at ease.
To help you overcome your fears and receive essential treatment, here are 12 highly effective ways to combat your dental phobia.
1. Work Out What Makes You Anxious
Often, if you’re scared of something, you’d rather not think about it. When it comes to a fear of the dentist, there could be several causes. Some people don’t like our tools; for others, it’s the loss of control. Many people recall traumatic experiences in their youth.
Work out if there’s anything that specifically scares you. The more you know about your phobia, the better.
2. Talk to a Dental Phobia Certified Dentist
Dental Phobia is an organisation that certifies dentists who provide gentle and supportive treatments to nervous patients. Our very own Dr KP is certified. He is keenly interested in working with patients to help them overcome their fears.
Talking through your worries with your dentist will give them a better understanding of how they can adapt your treatment to reduce your anxiety.
3. Make Your Appointments for Quiet Times
If the waiting room is full of people, it can cause feelings of anxiety to intensify. By the time you’re in with the dentist, you’ll feel on edge and irritable. This means that before you even start your checkup or treatment, your anxiety is too high.
Talk to our reception team about booking a slot for a quiet time of the day. Let them know you’re nervous, and they’ll do their best to accommodate your needs.
4. Make Frequent Small Visits
If it’s been a while since you last visited the dentist, why not build up slowly? Talk to the team here and arrange to make little visits to see us. Building up to a full examination or a treatment can help you feel safer while getting to know our team will help you grow in confidence.
5. Bring Someone With You
When you come in for an appointment, bring someone with you. This can be your partner, a family member, or a friend. Pick someone you feel comfortable around. Knowing someone that cares about you is in the room is helpful, as is having them holding your hand if needed.
6. Bring Headphones and Music
Listening to something you enjoy can often take your mind off what’s happening around you. Although we can put music on in the clinic, you may want to bring your own.
If the sound of dental instruments makes you feel uncomfortable, engaging in an audiobook, listening to your favourite artist, or catching up on the latest podcast episodes can provide a welcome distraction.
Noise-cancelling headphones are even more effective, blocking out every sound around you.
7. Understand Any Procedures You Need
Often, the things we’re scared of are completely rational. But, sometimes, our fears are unfounded. Understanding what’s involved in your treatment stops your brain from filling in the gaps with worrying thoughts. The more you know, the less you need to speculate.
We can discuss the procedure in as much detail as you need. And if you have any questions, we’re always here to help.
8. Go At Your Pace
If you feel your anxiety levels grow at any point during your examination or treatment, we can take a break. Talk to us at the start of your appointment about how you’ll communicate that you need to stop. We can agree on a hand signal or something similar.
We want you to feel comfortable, and if you’re worried and anxious, we don’t want you to feel rushed.
9. Practice Breathing Exercises
The anxiety you feel results from chemicals produced by signals from your sympathetic nervous system. When your body shifts from the relaxed parasympathetic nervous system to sympathetic, several things happen to get your body ready for “fight or flight”. Your heart rate increases, oxygen in your blood is sent to the muscles instead of your brain, and your pupils dilate.
You can use controlled breathing to bring your body out of this state. By taking full, slow breaths over several seconds, holding your breath, and then breathing out slowly, you’ll begin to calm yourself down. Using this technique, you can stop yourself from feeling a sense of panic.
10. Learn Grounding Techniques
Techniques like body scanning or grounding techniques that help you focus better help to take your mind off anxious thoughts. Identifying things you can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell are all helpful ways to stop a racing mind.
11. Seek Out a Professional Therapist
Often, dental phobias are deep-seated and linked to trauma. A professional therapist or counsellor can help you navigate these unwanted thoughts and feelings. Therapies like CBT can help you learn new ways to frame difficult fears.
12. Understand Fear Is Normal
Fear is a natural part of life. It’s there to protect us and prepare our bodies for things we perceive as dangerous. We don’t judge patients. If it’s been a long time since you last saw a dentist, and you’re embarrassed by your oral health, we understand. We’d like to help you.
Be kind to yourself and give yourself time to overcome your dental phobia. It can take a while; however, we’re here to help you at every stage of the journey.
Treating Nervous Patients at Love Teeth
If you’re feeling anxious about your appointment, Love Teeth provides a warm and friendly welcome to every patient. We’ll take the time to help you manage your phobia and ensure you get the best quality of dentistry possible.
Contact us today to make an appointment with our friendly teams at Cheam, Chessington, Stonecot, Sutton, or Worcester Park.