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What is fear of the dentist, and where does it come from?
Researchers have found that one in four of us suffer from this fear of going to see the dentist. Fears can vary from person to person, from fear of what treatment might entail, to memories of bad experiences in the past.
It tends to be a greater issue among women than among men, and is more prevalent in younger people than in older patients. Dentists are increasingly aware that this is a major issue, and take a supportive approach with their clients.
Why is it an issue?
Fear of the dentist can lead to patients avoiding regular trips to the dentist for check ups and routine treatment. These can in turn lead to dental problems building up, and end up forcing the need for emergency dentistry which could otherwise have been avoided.
What action can I take to deal with my dental phobia?
Communicating with your dentist and practice is the key, and you’ll be pleased to know that they are supportive and understanding of the patient’s needs in this respect. Many other patients suffer with the same anxiety. The other good news is that dental techniques have developed over the years, so practices and procedures are much safer, less intimidating, and usually painless. So if you’re nervous, let someone know.
If I haven’t been in a while, will I need a lot of dental treatment?
You could be pleasantly surprised. A lot of modern dentistry is about maintenance, and with regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste, and care for your teeth, you may in fact need little in the way of fillings. They will also check for gum disease, and you may find that after initial consultation, these routine checkups are simply focussed on checking your teeth and gums, and polishing and cleaning them.
What should I do if I am afraid of injections?
Fear of needles or trypanophobia is an under reported condition, with as much as 10 percent of people suffering. If you are afraid of needles, then do let your dentist know, as they are routinely used to administer local anaesthetic to the mouth during major dental work. If required, an anaesthetic gel can be applied to the area, so that your gum becomes numb and you cannot feel the needle being inserted.
What other things can I do to help deal with my anxiety?
Different things work for different people. You can take a friend, take some music to listen to, pick a time of day, or day of the week when you will be less stressed. Certain practices even specialise in dealing with dental anxiety, so, if you search carefully, you could find a dental team that is supportive. Breathing and relaxation techniques can also help to calm your nerves. There are resources online such as the BDHF, that can help you further.
For more tips on taking care of your teeth, keep an eye on our dental blog.