According to a study presented at the National Smile Month website, almost 50% of adults in the UK have a fear of visiting the dentist – with 12% of those people suffering from severe dental anxiety. This is an extreme version of the discomfort that most of us feel at the prospect of being examined – it’s an intense, unreasonable phobia that can lead to some very complicated health problems later in life – gum disease, discoloured teeth, and early teeth loss to name just a few.
If you suffer from severe dental phobia, you may need to get some professional help, but if it’s less life destroying, the following tips should be able to help you to overcome it:
- Speak to your dentist – they are experienced in this area, and will be understanding of it, making your appointments less stressful for you. Some dentists are even professionally trained in this area.
- Take a friend with you to hold your hand throughout your appointment, giving you some much needed comfort throughout.
- Book an early appointment so you don’t have the whole day to get more worked up about it.
- Put yourself in control – tell the dentist that you need a signal if you want them to stop. Something as simple a putting up your finger can make all the difference.
- Listen to music or an audio book – anything to distract yourself throughout the appointment.
- If meditation or relaxing breathing isn’t enough to calm you down, as about sedatives. In some cases these will be given to keep you calm throughout.
- Sit up – sometimes the vulnerability of lying down can raise the anxiety tenfold.
- Do some research. If you aren’t sure about the procedure you are booked in for, then look it up. Knowledge is power, and it can help you to feel much calmer. For example, a dental cleaning involves removing the plaque from your teeth, using the following steps:
- An examination of your mouth, checking that the clean is viable.
- The removal of plaque, using a scaler which may cause a slight scraping sound.
- A gritty toothpaste clean which is done with a high powered electric toothbrush. This is no different to cleaning your teeth, expect for the grittiness of the toothpaste.
- Flossing – the dentist will then floss your teeth, locating any potential trouble spots.
- You will then rinse with water to get rid of any leftover debris.
- The dentist will then offer you the fluoride treatment, which will protect your teeth against cavities for a few months. A foamy gel and mouthpiece will be used to finish this off for you.
So as you can see, there are things that you can do to help yourself recover from dental anxiety, it’ll just take you a bit more focus to get through your appointment. There isn’t any need for to become one of the quarter of the population that doesn’t visit the dentist regularly, only when you have a problem.