Tips To Overcome Your Fear Of The Dentist

Posted on: 27 March 2015

Are you afraid of the dentist?  If so, you're not alone.  Some people are so anxious about a session in the dentist's chair that they won't even make an appointment and haven't paid a visit in years.  If you fall into this category, it's possible that you are experiencing toothache or that your teeth don't look nice. But what can you do? Read on to find out more.

Understanding dental advances

The first step in overcoming your fear is to understand just how much dentistry has advanced in the last few years.  Surgeries can be more like hotel reception areas with non-clinical décor and soothing background music.  You can even enjoy the smell of freshly brewed coffee instead of disinfectant, and there's no distant whining of drills to send you running for the door.

Drills are actually much quieter and produce less frightening vibration than they used to do.  Treatment is virtually painless.  If you have a needle phobia, your dentist may be able to use a special dental wand instead.  The wand is a computerised injection system that delivers the anaesthesia extremely slowly through a 'pen', so it's totally painless.  If you do have an injection, a gel can be used to deaden your gums so that you don't even feel the needle.

Now that you're feeling more confident already, here are some tried and tested tips to help you overcome your fear and finally make that long overdue trip to the dentist.

  1. Many dentists specialise in treating nervous patients and children.  Ask people you know if there's a dentist they can recommend or check out websites to find those who sound suitable.  Pay a visit to the surgery to get a general feel for the place.  Have a chat with the dentist and reception staff and take in the overall environment.  If you feel comfortable, make an appointment.  
  2. When you make an appointment, choose an early morning slot.  This means you won't have to spend all day worrying about it.
  3. Remember that the first appointment will just be a check-up; there will be no actual treatment carried out, so use this initial visit as an opportunity to get to know the dentist and his team. 
  4. Take someone with you to your appointment.  They can sit with you while you wait and can also be there during your treatment if their presence makes you feel more confident.  
  5. It can be a feeling of not being in control that leads to anxiety when you're in the dentist's chair.  Agree on a stop sign with the dentist before he begins your treatment.  This will help you to feel more in control and will allow you to have a break if you need one.  
  6. It can be a useful strategy to begin your visits with a scale and polish appointment rather than undergoing any treatment.  You can gradually progress to a full treatment session once you feel more confident and have built up a rapport with your dentist.  
  7. Music is a very effective relaxation tool.  Take a selection of your favourite tunes on a mobile device to listen to during your visit.  
  8. If you're extremely fearful, your dentist may refer you to a sedation clinic.  These clinics are specifically designed to help severely phobic dental patients.  You may be given inhalation sedation to help you relax, rather like gas and air given to patients during childbirth.  Alternatively, you could have intravenous sedation.  This won't put you to sleep but will relax you so completely that you probably won't even remember the treatment you had.

In conclusion

These days, there's really no need to be afraid of going to the dentist.  Phone your local surgery for a chat or better still drop in and make an appointment.