If the thought of visiting your dentist gives you a feeling of nervousness and puts you off visiting a dental clinic, you’re not alone. According to the Oral Health Foundation, almost one in five of the UK population of adults have a fear of visiting their dentist, with around 12% of the population suffering from a dental phobia and dental anxiety.
Many of us may be unsure as to whether we have dental anxiety. It’s thought that if you require dental treatment and will avoid visiting a dental clinic, you have a form of dental phobia. Unfortunately, those with dental phobia will only visit their dentist when forced to by extreme dental pain. This phobia leaves people feeling like they are unable to change their habits or feelings, whilst still having an awareness of their fear being irrational.
Those with dental phobia are often known to have intense feelings of discomfort and sickness when thinking about the dentist, troubles sleeping the night before a trip to the dentist and even feeling a struggle to breathe when sat in a dental waiting room or whilst having treatment.
It’s thought that dental phobia is often related to bad experience and a preconception that visiting a dentist is a negative experience. Other psychological factors might include a belief of dentist appointments lasting a long time whilst delayed waiting times tend to prolong the visit and exacerbate the overall experience.
If you think you’re suffering from dental anxiety, don’t panic. We’ve treated thousands of anxious and nervous patients over the years and we understand how important it is for us to provide a pleasant dental experience. We’ve listed eight of the best ways to defeat your dental anxiety to provide you with support before your next dental visit.
1. Change your dentist
If you’ve experienced a bad visit to the dentist, it’s likely to put you off visiting the dentist in the future. Whilst dentists have a responsibility to support with maintaining your oral health and providing you with dental treatments, they also have a responsibility to ensure that you’re comfortable and feeling relaxed. There should be no reason to feel anxious.
For this reason, you may find it beneficial to change your dentist and find someone that will understand your anxieties and put your mind at rest.
Ask friends and family for recommendations or focus on reviews of local dentists to find out how other patients have found their visit. You’d be surprised how many patients have similar anxieties, so any suitable dentist will have positive reviews from patients suffering from dental anxiety.
2. Start with a checkup
It might have been a while since you’ve had any dental treatment. Rather than jumping straight into having an invasive treatment, you may instead benefit from starting off slowly with a checkup or hygiene visit first.
This is a very simple step, which will allow you to build up a rapport with your dentist and gradually build your confidence before having a treatment done.
3. Choose an early appointment time
We’ve all had the experience of waiting around for a job interview, meeting or an exam. Often, this long wait can drag out the experience and can provide you with more time to panic and worry.
For this reason, booking an early appointment in the morning can be a better alternative and will be over before you know it. Delays in appointments will often worsen dental anxiety, so having an early appointment reduces the chances of your appointment being delayed.
4. Make your anxiety known
A problem shared, really is a problem halved. Make your anxiety known to your dentist and let them know if you have any fears so that they’re aware beforehand. Dentists are trained to handle any type of patient, so don’t be afraid to make it clear if you’re feeling anxious during your appointment.
If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can even agree to a ‘sign’ with your dentist to signal if you’d like them to stop and take a break. This is simple, however, it will help you feel more in control of your dental visit and will allow your dentist to make the experience more pleasant.
If you have a fear of needles, talk to your dentist and find out if they’re able to use a numbing gel to numb any minor pain or discomfort. At Hermes dentist, our entire team are super friendly and experienced, we’re all humans!
5. Find support
You’d be surprised how many patients bring a friend or relative with them to their dental appointments. As a dental clinic in London, we are more than happy if you’d prefer to have someone accompany you to your appointment for support.
6. Find pleasant distractions
When most anxious patients visit the dentist, the only thing on their mind is what is happening in the dental chair. The sound of dentist drills and the saliva ejector can overpower the dentist experience and cause a sensory overload.
Finding distractions whilst visiting the dentist can turn your thoughts away from your anxieties. When having a checkup or treatment, take some headphones to listen to music during your visit or listen to an audio book to keep your mind at rest and help you relax.
7. Use mindfulness techniques
Anxiety is in the mind and finding techniques and methods to counteract this anxiety can make a world of difference. When we experience anxiety, our breathing becomes out-of-sync and can be hard to control. Try deep breathing exercises during your dental visit and make sure to inhale and exhale slowly. If you find your anxiety beginning to get out of hand either before your appointment or during, try this technique five times.
If you still find yourself experiencing anxiety, focus on relaxing each muscle in your body and begin at the top of your body and gradually work down. Focus your energy on releasing tension in your forehead, then your cheeks, neck, chest and then continue to the lower half of your body.
8. Reward Yourself
A good reward system can psychologically give us the impression that something has been a positive experience, even though we may not have felt that way throughout the experience.
After your checkup or treatment, treat yourself to a reward to create a positive association with the overall experience. Whether it’s a visit to the cinema, heading out for lunch or simply spending the remainder of the day relaxing, you’ll really be on your way to defeating your dental anxiety.
Take care of your teeth
As a private dentist in London, we have treated a number of anxious and nervous clients, who have had bad experiences in the past. We pride ourselves by giving our clients the most pleasant dental experience which will enable them to overcome any fears and maintain their teeth for the rest of their lives.
If you require a dental appointment, please contact us on 020 7233 7660. Our dentists will see all emergency patients on the same day whenever possible, and you will be offered the next available appointment as soon as you call.