Going to the dentist is maybe not the most entertaining and fun use of your time. However, it’s essential to visit for regular check-ups to keep your teeth and gums in check.
If you’re nervous about going to the dentist, or you haven’t been for a while, follow these twelve simple steps.
1. Write down the reasons why you feel anxious about going to the dentist
This will help you to understand your fears better and pinpoint any specific phobias. Do you dread being in pain? Does the thought of the dental drill fill you with anxiety? Are you worried about having an injection? If you’ve not been for a long time, there is chance that you may be embarrassed about the state of your teeth. Or you may worry that your dentist will tell you that you need further treatment. Note down any possible causes of your anxiety, as well as the symptoms you experience.
2. Contact your dentist
This requires a little bravery, but it will pay dividends. If you have a regular dentist, contact them and arrange to pop in for a chat. If you aren’t registered with a dentist, research local clinics, which offer pain-free dentistry. Look out for dentists with training and experience in this area, such as Dr Elie Alam at Painfree Dentistry. Pluck up the courage to make an appointment and write down a list of questions you have for your dentist. If you have a list to hand, you won’t forget when you get to your appointment.
3. Be open and honest
When you see your dentist, try to be as honest as possible with them. Talk to them about why you feel anxious and what you are afraid of when your dental appointments come through. Chat to them about your symptoms and ask them questions. It is likely that your dentist will be able to answer some of your queries and put your mind at ease.
4. Try to go to the dentist regularly
It can take a lot of bottle to book a dental check if you haven’t been for a while. But the longer you put it off, the higher the risk of dental health problems. If you see your dentist on a regular basis, there is a much better chance that you will be given a clean bill of oral health. You will also get used to the sights and sounds of the clinic. After a few visits, you should feel much more confident and comfortable in the dental chair.
5. Don’t worry about what your dentist will think
Many people delay making an appointment because they are worried about what their dentist will think of their teeth. Always remember that dentists are trained to prevent and treat dental diseases. It is highly likely that your dentist has come across far worse cases of decay or gum disease previously. They are also there to help you improve your oral health and to conquer your anxiety. You should never worry that your dentist will judge you. If for any reason, you’re not happy with your dentist, don’t feel pressured to stay with them. Arrange to visit some other clinics and register with another dentist.
6. Ask your dentist about modern pain-free techniques
Dentistry is advancing at lightning speed, and there are all kinds of exciting innovations on offer. Today’s dentists have an arsenal of pain-free treatment techniques at their disposal. If your dentist knows that you have particular fears or that you feel anxious, they can employ different treatment methods. If, for example, you have a phobia of needles, they may be able to offer pain-free injections. Using devices like The Wand, they can offer treatment, which ensures that you feel comfortable throughout. The Wand looks similar to a standard pen. It is controlled by a small computer and regulates the speed of fluid flow. This helps to prevent painful injections, which are caused by a sudden burst of liquid.
7. Think positively
Positive thinking may sound like an obvious suggestion, but it can make a world of difference. If you go to a dental appointment filled with dread and fearing the worst, you will make yourself more anxious. If you go in with a positive mindset, you’ll probably find that the session isn’t half as bad as you feared. Try to rationalise the situation. What’s the worst that could happen? If you go to your dentist frequently, you’ll have a 5-minute check, and then you won’t have to go back for six months. If you haven’t been for a while, focus on the fact that it is hugely beneficial that you are going now. If you do need treatment, your dentist will be there to support and reassure you.
8. Consider treatment under sedation
Sedation enables people to undergo medical and dental procedures without feeling any pain. When you are sedated, you will start to feel drowsy. You won’t lose consciousness like you would with general anaesthetic. You can talk to your dentist if you wish to, or simply relax. When you start to come around after treatment, you probably won’t remember much. After sedation, you won’t need to stay over in hospital, but you may feel a little groggy. Arrange for somebody to give you a lift home and stay with you. You should avoid making any important decisions, exercising or drinking alcohol. Take it easy and rest up for the next 24 hours.
9. Learn more about your treatment
If you see your dentist, and they tell you that need more treatment, ask them to explain the procedure. If you have a clear understanding of what will happen and what you can expect, you won’t be dreading any nasty surprises. Ask your dentist to show you images and explain what the procedure entails and how it will benefit you. You may also wish to ask how long it will take and what your mouth will feel like afterwards. If you need a complex procedure, your dentist will run through anaesthetic options with you. If you would feel more comfortable having treatment under sedation, don’t hesitate to state that this is your preference.
10. Take a friend with you
If you feel apprehensive about having dental treatment, take a friend along to the dentist with you. They can help to calm you down and reassure you. Take somebody who makes you feel relaxed. If you want them to go into the treatment room with you, this is not a problem.
11. Distract yourself
Distraction techniques have been used to reduce anxiety for many years. Keep busy in the days leading up to your appointment. When you arrive at the clinic, watch television or read a magazine to distract your mind. Listen to music or watch a film while you’re in the dental chair. While your mind is occupied with something else, you’re less likely to think about where you are and what you’re doing.
12. Stay on top of your dental care
Prevention is always better than cure. Once you’ve overcome the hurdle of your initial appointment, keep up to date with regular checks. Schedule appointments in advance and keep an eye out for any problems symptoms. If you do notice any issues, such as bleeding gums, see your dentist. Don’t wait for your next check-up. It’s always best to treat dental issues as early as possible. Early signs of gum disease and decay are easy to address. However, if they are left, they are much harder to treat. Untreated gum disease can cause premature tooth loss. If you ignore signs of decay, you may end up with a painful abscess. Keep a note of any appointments in your diary and set reminders on your phone. Many dental practices also use an SMS reminder service. If you have to cancel for any reason, make sure you rearrange.