Top 5 tips for easing dental anxieties

Dental-clinic

The UK has often suffered the stereotype of poor dental hygiene; however recent research has revealed that surprisingly few people pay their dentist a visit. A report distributed in September of 2011 provided some illuminating information on the number of people that visit the dentist, with only 56.5% of the UK population having been to an appointment over the preceding 24 months. Furthermore, a study on dental health stated that 12% of us suffer from extreme dental anxiety, whilst 25% of us suffer some type of fear before visiting the dentist. Whilst this fear is in decline it is still a surprisingly large statistic. What is it about the dentist that evokes such a broad range of dread? These facts astonished me, as my annual visits to Manor Dentists did not evoke any form of fear at all; in fact I quite enjoyed my time with them. Dentist appointments not only benefit people in terms of oral health but have also been linked to overall health; poor dental hygiene having been connected to diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

doctor-talks

On further reading, the reasons behind dentistry fear are more understandable. Often fear can be connected to a lack of control the patient feels in the dentist’s chair, a fear of pain or needles; or even embarrassment at a loss of personal space. After a great deal of research on the matter, I have compiled a list of my top 5 means to ease dental fear:

  1. Talk to your dentist – If they cannot sympathise or help you cope with your anxiety you are well within your rights to find another dentist. Often they will respond with a combination of kindness and sympathy which leads to bypassing most anxieties.
  2. Familiarise yourself with the dental environment – slightly in advance of your appointment it is recommended you go to the dental practice and engage with the people there, look around the rooms and become altogether more at ease with the surroundings.
  3. Bring a family member/friend – This individual will act as an anchor in an otherwise alien environment. Of course select who accompanies you carefully, choose someone who is a calming presence and unlikely to exacerbate your fears.
  4. Create a visual signal for the dentist to stop – this is especially appropriate if not being in control is the prominent issue, and also works to ensure that you can progress through the appointment at your own pace
  5. Inhalation sedation – if none of the psychological techniques above are likely to influence your decision to visit the dentist then there are other methods. One such method is inhalation sedation which is great at making you feel more relaxed, it is a gas with no colour, smell or dangerous side effects. It is also known as ‘laughing gas’ and is known to induce a feeling of euphoria.