The fear within

August 19, 2015

Does the sound of the dentist’s drill send shivers down your spine? The smell of mouthwash make your palms feel sweaty? And does your heart beat faster at the thought of seeing those dental instruments heading towards your mouth? If so, you’re not alone: a quarter of us feel fearful of visiting our dentist. However, there are lots of things you can do to make your routine check-up or treatment feel a little less daunting.

Firstly, consider where you register. It may be that you’ve not visited the dentist for a long time, and aren’t actually registered anywhere. When you’ve made that decision to head in for a check-up, do your research. Speak to friends, family and colleagues about where they go, and what their experiences have been. A recommendation from someone we trust can really help to reassure us about what our dental practice may be like.

When making enquiries about joining a practice, and making an appointment, it’s a good idea to alert the surgery to your concerns early on. This can then be recorded on your notes, so that your dentist is aware before you even visit. This again can help to take some of the pressure off.

Plan carefully when you will have your first appointment. Book for a time of day that works well for you, and for when you will be feeling relaxed. For some this might be first thing in the morning, for others, later in the day. Whichever you choose, plan your day carefully. Don’t book in a stressful meeting at work just before or just after your appointment, and definitely don’t take a gamble on getting a good run through the local road works: leave yourself plenty of time to travel to your appointment. This should help you to arrive in the calmest manner possible.

When you meet with your dentist, have a chat to them about your concerns. Can you identify what it is exactly that you are concerned about? Are there any particular things you’d like to flag? Your dentist may be able to provide reassurance, answer questions and alleviate your concerns. Then, before they start to look in your mouth, consider agreeing a ‘stop’ sign, such as raising an arm. This should help you to feel more control, and enable you to take a break if you need one.

Plan how you will manage the appointment before you go. Perhaps it would be helpful to take your headphones so that you can listen to music during the appointment? Or plan what you will think about/what you will do (can you move each of your toes individually?!). Having a clear plan before you go in will help the appointment to go quickly.

Dental treatment is rarely urgent (your dentist will advise on this). Therefore, you can take appointments at your own pace. It may be that you set yourself the target of having a check-up one month, then maybe the next month consider visiting the hygienist. It’s entirely up to you. The first step is always making that initial check-up appointment.

If you’re still concerned about visiting your dentist, there are lots of other things you can try and advice you can follow. Speak to your dentist as they maybe to signpost you to surgeries that specialise in treating nervous patients. Or they may have access to services that can provide support to manage a phobia. Have a chat to our team at Burford Road today about how we can support you.

For more information on conquering a fear of visiting the dentist, visit the British Dental Health Foundation or the NHS websites.

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