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Frightened of visiting the dentist?

February 10, 2014 by bridgeways

As published in the Totton & Romsey and West Wellow Gazette

You don’t have to be!

Let’s face it, to the vast majority of people, going to the dentist still isn’t exactly a fun day out! However great progress has and is continuing to be made to make it less of an ordeal. You will be relieved to know that you are not alone-about one in four of us avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. Indeed many children today are growing up with absolutely no apprehension of seeing the dentist because the whole experience has changed so much for them at least.

People with dental anxiety have a sense of uneasiness about a forthcoming dental appointment and may have exaggerated worries or fears. Dental phobia is a more serious condition that leaves people panic-stricken and terrified. Often this fear is irrational but it is not possible to overcome it, and results in only going to the dentist when forced to by extreme pain.

Some of the more common reasons why people experience dental anxiety and phobia include:

The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your anxieties with your dentist who can then work with you to determine the best ways forward and to make you feel less anxious and more comfortable. If you are not taken seriously then find another dentist who will! It is absolutely essential that you take the trouble to find the person right for you-someone in whom you have total confidence and feel totally at ease with. The rest should follow! Ask friends, work colleagues and family if they can recommend anyone or look at dentist’s websites to find one that feels right for you. People are often prepared to travel great distances to see the right dentist for them.  Another good tip is to take one step at a time. You may ask if it is possible to just go to a potential practice to look around and meet members of the team before making a decision – get a feel for the place so to speak. Ask if it’s possible to have a friend to accompany you for support. Start with a very simple treatment first and work your way upwards as you build up your confidence. All these things matter!

If lack of control is a concern, then actively participating in a discussion with your dentist about your treatment can easily resolve this. Some practices may have a treatment co-ordinator with whom you can discuss any issues you have in a non-clinical situation and who can then liaise with the dentist on your behalf. Having everything explained can be extremely helpful for a lot of people. A very useful strategy to put you in control is to establish some sort of signal such as raising your hand, when you want your dentist to stop so you can take “time out” in order to then go forward again.

Sounds and smells often associated with dental practices are another cause of anxiety but nowadays much has been done to make them friendlier environments, creating the right ambience for a far more relaxing experience. Music and other forms of distraction can all help to make your whole experience more pleasurable. The use of a personal music system while having any treatment can work wonders in distracting you from the noises associated with treatment. Some find it useful to use something like a stress ball to squeeze during treatment – others find solace in simple things like shredding tissue.

Don’t forget to always think positive thoughts as this can be very powerful and “reward” yourself with something relevant to you for meeting your challenge and winning! Some people find the use of herbal (such as Bach Flower remedies) or homeopathic remedies very useful in overcoming stressful situations. Others may find the answer lies in counselling, hypnosis. or in cases of severe dental phobia, some form of sedation. It doesn’t really matter what it is that works for you, as long as it works!

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