In the UK, dental phobia is surprisingly common.
With as many as 7% to 13% of people admitting to feeling worried about dental check-ups, it can be a serious problem for an individual’s oral and mental health. Statistically, women are twice as likely than men to have a dental phobia, which, if they have children, can be passed on to the younger generations too.
Of course, any phobia relating to a healthcare professional can lead to ongoing issues. If you haven’t had a dental check-up in a while, you are at a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease, even if you maintain excellent dental hygiene at home.
Luckily, dental professionals are aware of how scary a dental visit can be, especially if you are phobic and now, even in the NHS, more and more professionals are trained in how to manage even the most nervous of patients.
If it has been a few years since your last check-up and you are desperate to see a dentist, here are a few tips you can follow to make that next dental check-up painless.
If shopping for a compassionate dental professional, the best place to look is online. Reviews from former patients are a great indicator of how well a dental practitioner treats nervous or phobic patients.
Where you are lucky enough to have a local dental surgery, ask the receptionists about their recommendations, receptionists manage phobic patients daily and are often well advised on which practitioner will best meet your needs.
Congratulations! You have jumped the first hurdle to overcoming your dental phobia.
With you initial meeting with your new dentist booked, you may feel more worried and nervous than anticipated.
At this point, it is worth remembering that with this first dental visit, you should be able to ask as many questions as you wish and not be pressured into undergoing a check-up if you are not ready. This initial meeting will give you the opportunity to determine if you feel comfortable with this person, can you see yourself feeling less worried about appointments with them? Do they seem genuinely compassionate?
If your dental phobia stems from fear of the sound of the drill, injections or any other stimuli, you can ask about painless injections or silent drills.
Moving on from the more common reasons for dental phobias, does the smell of the surgery bother you more than the sound of a drill? Do the smells of the practice upset you even more than the sights?
Ask about extras; things like scented candles, air fresheners and even relaxing music can all be accommodated in a dental surgery. If you would prefer to listen to your headphones, ask about this too. Many practitioners are happy to work while you have a headset on if it calms your nerves.
Remember, baby steps are key to overcoming any phobia, so take your time and good luck!