Techniques to stop your fear of the dentist
Fear of the dentist, or Odontophobia, is surprisingly common. In fact, around 12% of the population suffer from severe dental anxiety – severe being defined as anxiety so serious it prevents them seeking dental treatments. Of the remainder, a further 25% suffer from some form of anxiety before visiting the dentist – according to the British Dental Association.
As dental phobia is so common the good news is that a variety of techniques have been developed and tested that can help alleviate your fear of the dentist or remove it entirely. We will start by examining simple strategies and then move on to specialist and intensive treatment options and therapies.
Talking to a dentist
The best place to start is to talk to a dentist about your fears and your concerns. You can call or schedule an appointment to see your dentist and work out the best ways for them to minimise your discomfort. Dentist’s don’t want to make you anxious or cause you pain. Building a rapport with a dentist helps alleviate many patient’s fears. You can book an appointment by calling us directly on 0151 709 9146. Whilst talking to us you should discuss some of the options in the next sections.
Relaxation techniques are designed to put you at ease during an appointment. One of the first things to explore is whether you want the dentist to talk you through the process of your check-up or treatment. Many patients find this preparation is useful. You may also want to discuss taking regular breaks in your treatment so that you can be at ease and relax.
Breathing exercises are incredibly useful to focus your mind and keep you calm. Our favourite technique is controlled breathing – simply breath in through your nose for a slow count of three then exhale in exactly the same fashion. This helps to slow your heart and focus your concentration away from your treatment.
Distraction techniques are ways to make your brain think of other things during treatment. They are some of the best ways to keep you relaxed during an appointment. Some of the best distraction techniques are having a nurse talk to you, having music on an mp3 player or similar device or just listening to the radio – these all help your mind focus on other things.
If these techniques don’t alleviate your dental phobia enough to visit the dentist then you will need to look at alternatives. Therapy is not uncommon for odontophobia and there are actually specialist therapists in this field – you can find a suitable therapist through the NHS. If you don’t want to visit a therapist there are support networks online including Dental Fear Central – where you can discuss your problems with others.
In some cases, medical sedation is an alternative to avoid any anxiety. It works by making you unconscious for the duration of your treatment and is useful in extreme cases of anxiety where extensive treatment is necessary. You can book sedation with us here as this is a great way to avoid anxiety.
We hope these techniques will help you to feel more relaxed the next time you come to visit us.