Many people feel anxious about going to the dentist. For some, this fear prevents them from seeing a dentist for years.
Avoiding the dentist, however, can mean that you may develop more severe dental issues which will need a more invasive treatment than just a check-up.
Why are people nervous about the dentist?
According to the British Dental Association (BDA), the fear of pain during oral treatment is the major barrier for many patients. It could be that an unpleasant experience in the past has caused anxiety.
Other common concerns may include fear of injections, fear of the anaesthetic not working, concerns about the unnecessary treatment being carried out, and anxiety about cross-infection.
Some on the other hand just don’t like the thought of someone peering into their mouth or the feel of latex gloves on their lips.
However, it is so important to make sure that your teeth remain healthy, and organising bi-annual dental appointments will help you keep your mouth and teeth in tip-top condition.
Do I have dental anxiety? Learn more.
What can be done to help nervous patients?
Rest assured – help is available.
Start by talking to your dentist, and don’t be embarrassed about expressing your concerns.
If you’ve not been to the dentist for quite a long while, you may wish to contact the reception staff first and explain your concerns over the phone.
If the situation arises that you need some dental treatment, ask plenty of questions and make sure that you understand exactly what is going to happen.
This will help you feel in control. You may wish to take a friend or relative along with you for moral support.
If the thought of enduring a long treatment session is worrying you, discuss this with your dentist and calculate a coping strategy.
Perhaps agree on a hand signal if you need to take a break for a few moments.
If your anxiety is very strong you may wish to explore some of the approaches listed below:
- Relaxation techniques, either audio, visual or physical
- Sedation, either orally or intravenously
Read more here.
Many dentists have created an environment which allows for the calmest and pleasant experience possible.
If you have concerns, you can organise a dedicated patient consultation suite where you can visit your dentist for free and discuss any concerns you may have about your dental treatment or cosmetic dentistry.
In an emergency…
It is important that you do not avoid going to your dentists if there is an emergency.
Your dentist will treat you with the best and most calming care and will do all that they can to put you at ease. Seeking immediate emergency help will help avoid the risk of more invasive procedures further along down the line.
Read more about what constitutes a dental emergency here.