The fear of dentists and dental procedures is common. Did know you know that over half of the UK’s population have some kind of anxiety about going to the dentist?
Of course, there’s feeling anxious and getting treated anyway, and there’s being so scared to go that your dental health ends up suffering. A staggering 17% of people experience this level of anxiety. We call this dental phobia.
Thankfully, dental phobia isn’t a life sentence. You can overcome your fears and get essential, life-enhancing dental treatment with the right support. But where do you start?
As a Dental Phobia Certifed dentist, our very own Dr Kunal Patel has helped countless patients in your situation. Here are some tips to help you on the road to feeling more relaxed about receiving treatment.
What Causes Dental Phobia?
Everybody is different, and there is no single cause of dental phobia. Many people develop anxiety around dentistry at a young age.
It could stem from a negative experience while visiting the dentist, such as pain and discomfort. You might have had a dentist that made you feel rushed, claustrophobic, or powerless. Your fears could have come from experiencing pain from dental trauma.
In some cases, we learn to feel fear from those around us. If a parent, family member, friend, or partner has dental phobia, their experiences can influence our anxieties.
Your phobia may centre around the procedures, the use of tools, needles, the sounds you’ll hear in the clinic, or a general feeling of not being in control.
Whatever the cause, and however your phobia manifests itself, your emotions are justified and should not be dismissed as being “silly”.
Find a Dentist Who Understands
Believe it or not, the route to overcoming dental phobia starts with a caring dentist.
In recent years, the entire dentistry profession has become more aware of dental phobia. Dentists regularly witness the health problems that develop when someone is too frightened to get help. As a result, many dentists will change how they work, take extra training, and find ways to become more compassionate and supportive to those with dental anxieties.
At Love Teeth, Dr KP is a Dental Phobia Certified dentist. This means that he’s recognised for his understanding approach to helping nervous patients.
But reaching out and making that initial consultation with a supportive dentist isn’t easy. We know that it takes guts to even make the call. Our team appreciate your bravery. By letting us know that you’re anxious, we’ll be better prepared to make your experience at the clinic positive.
Talk About It
Talking through your anxieties helps. During your initial consultation, discussing the specific things that make you anxious will help us plan any treatment around your needs.
The more we know, the better we can help. You might feel uncomfortable talking about your dental phobia. You may not know where to start. A compassionate dentist knows what to ask to understand your anxieties.
Having this conversation lets us agree on how we’ll approach your treatment. We can even come up with a way for you to communicate feelings of heightened anxiety so we know to take a break.
Taking It Slow
We can take things slow. We won’t rush our gentle dentistry. Instead, we’ll ensure you have plenty of time to pause and catch a breath whenever you need it.
Removing the pressure surrounding dental treatments can sometimes relieve some of the stress.
Concentrating on what’s going on during a dental appointment can be disconcerting. It’s not unusual to feel pangs of worry whenever you see us reach for a new tool.
While modern dentistry techniques combined with anaesthesia mean treatments have never been more comfortable, it’s still easy to start wondering what will happen next or panicking when we change implements.
We’d always suggest using distractions. Bring something to listen to some music, your favourite podcast, or an audiobook along with a pair of headphones. The less you focus on what we’re doing, the easier it’ll be to manage your anxiety.
Bring a Friend
We’re happy for you to bring someone along to the clinic with you. You might want to choose a friend, family member, or partner. The ideal person would be someone that knows you well and can help you feel safe during stressful times.
Having someone hold your hand or reassure you when you’re feeling anxious can help in many cases.
Practice Breathing Techniques
You might feel your anxiety levels creeping up when you’re in the chair. These feelings come from a rush of hormones as your nervous system tells your body that you’re facing something you need to be scared of.
Of course, you don’t need to be scared. We won’t hurt you. The great news is that you can tell your nervous system that there’s no danger by altering your breathing.
When you’re feeling heightened anxiety, your breathing will be rapid and short. By consciously slowing your breathing down and taking deep breaths, you’ll eventually be able to slow the flow of stress hormones, and you’ll gradually relax.
Using Grounding Techniques
It’s easy to let your mind wander when we’re treating you. You may start thinking about worst-case scenarios. These thoughts will make your anxiety worse.
Practising grounding techniques that draw on your senses makes it possible to draw your thoughts back to the present moment.
Make the First Step to Overcoming Your Phobia
We want to help you overcome your dental phobia. Our caring ethos is practised in all of our clinics. You’ll get gentle and compassionate dentistry when visiting our Cheam, Chessington, Stonecot, or Sutton clinics.
Making that initial call can be hard, but it’s worthwhile. But you don’t just have to phone. Send us a message here, and we’ll get back to you.
However you feel most comfortable doing so, get in touch today to schedule your appointment and start on a life-changing journey to dental confidence.