We are well aware that we are not everyone's favorite place to visit. It is no secret that many people break out in a cold sweat at the thought of having to come to the dentist. This can be for a number of reasons but is most likely due to a childhood incident that has left the patient traumatised. Few people look forward to a spell in the dentist chair but serious anxiety prevents millions of people from seeking proper preventative care.
The consequences go far beyond dental pain or lost teeth. Gum disease is a serious infection that can affect other parts of the body. Studies now link gum disease to a number of illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Fortunately, with today's technology dentists are specially trained in handling fearful patients and a variety of methods and treatments are available to reduce pain and alleviate fear in the dentist chair.
What can I do to overcome my fears? Here are some steps that may help you to overcome your fear.
1: Be aware that your fear of the dentist is normal: There is no reason to be ashamed or embarrassed by your fear of the dentist. Do not be embarrassed to express your fear and phobia. It is our job to make you feel as comfortable as possible and we will take the necessary measures to ensure we do so. We suggest visiting the dentist on 6 monthly basis to maintain good oral health. Not going to the dentist regularly can lead to cavities, abscesses, broken or missing teeth and bad breath.
2: Write out your specific fears: We understand that you may be reluctant to admit that you have a phobia when visiting us. It may help to write out a list of what is causing you anxiety. You may not even be aware of your specific fears until you actually begin to think about it. If it helps bring this list to us we may be able to explain rationally what is causing your anxiety.
3: Figure out the cause of your fears: Fear is often learned through experience or memory. Identifying the sources of your dental phobia can help you get into the proper frame of mind to start overcoming your phobia. If you are unable to identify a specific experience that is the source of your fear, it may be a dental horror story from a friend or family member. Thinking about the source of your phobia can help you gradually overcome the fear. Simply acknowledging your fears may be the only thing you need to overcome them.
4: Acknowledge that dental procedures have improved greatly: Before you take concrete steps to visit us it is important to understand that dental procedures have improved greatly in recent years. Understanding improvements in dental treatments may help alleviate your fears. There are many new methods for treating all sorts of dental issues. We also like to burn candles in our office which takes away that clinical smell and helps put you at ease.
5: Locate the right dentist for you: The best way to find the right dentist for you is through family and friends and through booking an initial check up with a dentist to see if he/she is right for you. Let the receptionist know that you are a nervous patient and he/she will be able to book you in with the dentist who is most appropriate in dealing with your specific concerns.
6: Schedule a consultation with us: Meeting and discussing your dental health and fears with a dentist can help you to feel more comfortable. We are trained to make you feel comfortable in the dental chair and understand that patients do have anxieties. If there is anything you are unsure about or may not understand we recommend that you ask all the questions you need. Lastly, let us know what we may be able to do to make you more relaxed during your visit.
The foundation of any good doctor-patient relationship is effective communication. Talking to your dentist before, during and after your procedure can help to minimise your fears. We will explain the procedure to you before we begin treatment in terms which you will be able to understand. Again if there is anything you do not understand we encourage you to ask.
7. If at anytime you begin to feel uncomfortable raise a hand and we will stop: The more often you visit the dentist and have a positive experience, the more likely you will be to return. If at anytime you begin to feel uncomfortable raise a hand to let the dentist know you need a break. Treatments can also be broken up into a series of visits.
8: Distract yourself: If need be, bring your Ipod along to your appointment. Something as simple as playing your favorite music is enough to relax and distract you from the procedure.
9: Bring a friend or family member along to your appointment for moral support: Consider taking a friend or family member to accompany you to your appointment. He/she can help to distract you from a procedure, and also may be able to calm you. If you are extremely nervous, ask the doctor if your friend or family member can accompany you into the treatment room. Having someone with you that you trust can also help to relax you.
In conclusion, many patients avoid the dentist due to fear. This may be because they require complicated procedures which they may have been told by friends or family are "painful". By coming in for regular checks and cleans and making sure you adopt good oral hygiene habits you'll not only overcome your fear of the dentist but will minimise the risk of developing serious dental complications.