Fear of the dentist is one of the primary reasons that patients give for not visiting the dentist regularly. However, this can often lead to the progression of tooth decay or gum disease which can progress painlessly on the whole, only becoming noticeable at home when there is pain, at this point it may be too late to prevent the disease doing irreparable harm.
If only these patients had been to the dentist sooner, they could have prevented this pain and treatment… So let’s look at how we can overcome fears of the dentist.
I’m scared to go to the dentist because my teeth are so bad, what can I do?
The 1st thing to note is that your dentist will not judge you, they see this all of the time and they are there to help. Here are a few simple tricks if you are scared of going to the dentist.
- Book an appointment time early in the morning. This means you simply wake up, get ready and go to the dentist, without having to worry all day.
- Bring a friend. This means you have a distraction, a good tip is to agree topics you will talk about when you are at the dentist, for example your latest holiday.
- Tell the dentist. Do not try to be brave and just put up with being scared. Let your dentist know, they are trained to help and can modify the treatment accordingly (For example, giving you longer breaks).
- Agree a stop signal. This is a great way to let your dentist know that you need a break, usually razing of one of your hands is a good idea.
- Avoid alcohol. Whilst it might be tempting to have a drink before you go to the dentist it can actually exacerbate the problem.
How to distract yourself at the dentist
It would be good to think of things to do before your appointment, during your treatment and afterwards.
Before your appointment – bring a friend to the dentist and agree a topic you will talk about, this can be a really great way to help you distract yourself from any anxiety in the waiting room. If you have to go to the dentist alone then take a book or magazine that you find really interesting.
During your treatment – we recommend that at the beginning of the appointment you listen to the dentist, let them know you are nervous and agree a stop signal. This puts you in control. During the actual treatment it can be good to take your mind off somewhere else. If you have an interesting hobby, think about that hobby, plan what you might be doing next, plan your next project, think about all of the details of your hobby. This can be a really good way to take your mind off things with something you enjoy doing.
After your dental treatment – why not treat yourself. Consider treating yourself to something good. If you are able to eat after your appointment why not visit a local cafe and have something you really enjoy. Having something to look forward to after the treatment can really help time fly!
How does sedation help?
Dental sedation can often help with dental phobia, Very often a simple oral tablet can be taken in advance, allowing you to relax. If you an extremely nervous patients then ask your dentist about either inhalation sedation (gas and air) or intravenous sedation. Both of these techniques can help you relax and disappear into your own world and to feel comfortable during dental work.
Will I be judged by the dentist if my teeth are really bad?
Definitely not. Your dentist is there to help and not to judge. Your dentist is a healthcare professional that wants to help you be as fit and healthy as possible, even if you are afraid of the dentist they want to help you overcome any bad experiences and dental anxiety. Looking after your oral health is their primary concern.
What dentist anxiety medication is available?
There are usually 3 types of anxiety medication available:
- Oral medication – usually taken a few hours before treatment help you relax.
- Inhalation sedation – typically known as laughing gas. Modern administration techniques have changed hugely since the old mask design. You now simply were very comfortable nose piece allowing you to read your nose and gently relax.
- Intravenous sedation – this is where a drug is injected into your bloodstream, it allowed you to drift into a twilight world where you are still conscious but have no recollection of what’s happening
The key takeaway from this blog post helping you to find a dentist that can help with dental anxiety is to talk to your dentist. They are there as a professional to help you with your dental health, they are there to modify any treatments and never judge you. Be honest, let them know that you are fearful and they can help you with relaxation techniques during treatment such as root canal and treatment of other dental problems.
This post has been written by Dr Ajay Murgai, he is a highly experienced General and Cosmetic Dental Surgeon. Dr Ajay runs clinics in Hertfordshire, South Oxfordshire and Harley Street, and carries out a full spectrum of treatments from Aesthetic Dentistry to routine examinations.