Many people feel nervous of the dentist at some point. It may be linked to a bad experience as a child, or it may be completely irrational, but one thing is common, dental anxiety can be overwhelming. It is often linked with a feeling of loss of control, fear of pain and unfamiliarity with the circumstances. As with many fears, these fears can build into a phobia, which can then stop people coming to the dentist at all until they are forced to out of pain or infection.
Is there anything that you can do to help alleviate the fear and make the whole experience more bearable, or indeed pleasant? Surely not!
Well actually there are lots of ways to help cope with these fears.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. Accepting that you have fears, and that is a normal and natural response to stress is part of the battle. Once you have accepted that you are on your way to developing some coping strategies
- Think about what makes you nervous- is it the noises, the smells, or the lying back. Speak to your dentist and tell them what makes you nervous. Often the treatment can be adjusted to minimise or eradicate the bits that really worry you
- Build up a relationship with your dentist. Of course you are going to feel nervous the first few times you meet, but if you go regularly to the same dentist you will become familiar with how they work, and they will get to know you. Look for a dentist that deals with nervous patients and you will find them sympathetic and understanding. They will have dealt with this many times before and will help you manage the process
- Go regularly! This sounds like the opposite of what a nervous patient should do, but by putting an emphasis on prevention and having the dentist check your teeth often, catches problems early. This means they can be dealt with when they are small, meaning less treatment for you!
- Take some headphones. Most dentists are really happy for you to have your headphones in whilst you are having treatment. Put on your favourite playlist and relax!
- Learn some breathing techniques. Mindfulness, meditation and breathing techniques can help you when the fear starts rising. Practice these techniques before you even go to the dentist, so you can use them when you get stressed. There are loads of great apps to help you get started (headspace is one) if you have never tried this before.
There are many more ways you help you get started on your dental journey. I will share some more top tips in a later blog, but if you need help now do not hesistate to give us a call- It is never too late to get started!