Tips for When You’re Scared of the Dentist but Need to Go
You don’t have to be scared of the dentist when you need to go; here are some ways to overcome your dental anxiety.
Good teeth are a vital part of our overall health and wellbeing, and even if you’re not all that inclined to visit the dentist regularly for checkups, or to have your teeth cleaned every six months, as recommended, there are times when you just can’t put off a visit. There’s that sudden toothache that keeps throbbing away and soon becomes excruciatingly painful and unbearable, for example. You have to get to the dentist, and quick, but at the same time, there’s something holding you back: an overriding and yet irrational fear of the dentist chair and what might happen in it.
Many of us face this sweat-inducing dilemma, and it can cause a great deal of anguish — which can make the problem far worse. Something that could have been easily cleared up with general dentistry then develops into a more serious condition — an abscess, perhaps — and you need longer and more expensive treatment. The good news is that there’s no need to be fearful of having your teeth looked after, and if you’re scared of the dentist but need to go, consider these following tips to help you reach a zen-like place the next time you make a dental appointment.
Advice for General Dentistry Patients
Finding the right dentist for you can make all the difference between a panic-filled time at their clinic or an appointment filled with calm and tranquillity. The key is to have a dentist who is understanding of your needs and possible fears, and who is able to talk you through any procedures you may have so that you know exactly what to expect. This makes an incredible difference to many patients, and avoids having them turn up to a brusque or uncaring dentist and not knowing what’s going to happen: fear of the unknown is a major part of any anxiety, after all. How do you find such a kind and understanding dentist? Ask around — friends, family, co-workers — or search online for dentists who specialise in treating patients with dental anxiety. You’ll be glad you did.
Following on from locating a dentist who’s right for you, it can also be helpful to visit the clinic, if you’ve never been there. You’ll see the set-up and have a look at the surgery where your procedure will be performed, giving you a clear picture of the environment and what will be done. Many people are shy about talking to general dentistry staff about their fears, but try not to be, because your dentist and their staff are there to help you. Even saying something like, “I’m really nervous about having a drill used or injections” can help to put your fears to rest as your dentist addresses them and gives you peace of mind. And always bear in mind that no one is going to judge you for owning up to anxiety about dental procedures.
Again, if you’re new to a dental practice and have an appointment, it will most probably be for a consultation or checkup to see the condition of your teeth — it’s highly likely no procedures will be done at this stage. So there’s simply nothing to worry about for your first visit, apart from opening your mouth wide enough for your dental team to get a good look at your pearly whites. And try to get an appointment early in the day so you don’t have to wait, and worry, until the afternoon or later. You can also take a friend or family member with you for support, and it’s possible your dentist won’t mind if they accompany you into the surgery.
Undoubtedly, it’s the fear of pain that puts a lot of people off dentists. But the reality is that today’s powerful local anaesthetics mean there’s virtually no pain at all during dental procedures; all you might feel is the abrasive rub of drills, polishers and other instruments. This might make you uncomfortable because you’re not used to the sensation: talk about it beforehand with your dentist and agree on a signal that you can make if you’re not happy with something — even just pointing your finger or hand to tell your dentist to stop, because you may not be able to say anything with a number of instruments in your mouth. This can give you a feeling of control and make you more relaxed.
No Need to Be Scared of the Dentist, After All
For patients who are extremely scared of the dentist but need to go, there are other, more invasive options, including dental sedation. But if you follow the tips above, you’ll be perfectly fine — you may even like to bring along some music and hit the right note with your great new dental team.
The James Clinic always makes a point of putting our patients with dental anxiety at ease, and we’re available to talk to you about anything that might be troubling you ahead of having something done. Contact us today and find out how you can look after your teeth without a care in the world.