Going to the dentist is a scary thing. Don’t worry, you’re not alone, we’ve all been there. For most of us, going for our regular check-up is a nerve-wracking in one way or another, but manageable. For some people, visiting the dentist can be a real cause of fear and anxiety, to the point where some patients will put it off for months or even years. The problem is, the longer you put off going to see the dentist, the worse it will be. Not only could you risk serious illnesses like gum disease, tooth decay and infections, in all the delay you will have probably built up the appointment to be far scarier in your head than it could ever be in real life. So even if you fear the dentist, it’s important that you go to keep your smile (and your health) in tip-top shape. At Appledore, we treat a lot of nervous patients, and we have a few tips to help you manage dentist anxiety for your next appointment.
Communicate With Your Dentist
Dentists are used to working with nervous patients. We get it every day, and we do our best to be as gentle and accommodating as possible. But we aren’t mind readers either. So if you’re experiencing any anxiety at all around your dentist visit, the best thing you can do is talk to your dentist about it. It’s very important for us to know exactly how you’re feeling before, during and after your treatment, so that we can adjust how we work to make you feel more comfortable. There are lots of things your dentist can do to make your treatment more comfortable for you, including:
- Offering an explanation of every step of your treatment before they do it
- Asking your permission before proceeding with each step
- Scheduling regular comfort breaks
- Establishing a hand signal so that you can request breaks whenever you need them
Book A Consultation Before Any Treatment
A lot of people don’t realise that many dentists offer free consultations before they do major work to your teeth, or a free visit with a smile advisor before any dental visit. Booking one of these consultations means that you can meet your dentist and make sure that they are a good fit for you. They will also be able to explain your treatment to you, including what it’s for, how long it will take, why you need it and why it will be worth it! Just doing this simple step often helps calm the nerves about the dentist, and makes patients much more confident about booking the appointment.
Make Your First Appointment A Simple Clean And Polish
This rule applies to pretty much anything you’re nervous about doing – don’t throw yourself in at the deep end. Start small instead. Once you’ve had your assessment and you know what needs to be done, don’t rush in and book the work right away. Instead, start with a simple clean and polish appointment with the hygienist. Once you’ve had your assessment they will be happy to see your directly – unless you’ve seen a dentist at the same practice within 2 years, in which case you can do this before your assessment if you want. This appointment gives you a chance to work with the staff in the surgery in a simple and non-invasive way, and get more used to visiting the dentist and the procedure around it. This will help you feel more comfortable and calm when it’s time for your main treatments.
Bring Something That Calms You
If you’re really worried about your appointment, you can always bring something with you to help distract you, or prepare beforehand to steady your nerves. Bear in mind though that the dentist does need full access to your mouth, so bringing your favourite book or knitting project might not work out! But we have plenty of patients who have brought audiobooks or soothing music, or have practiced breathing exercises and meditation to help themselves relax. If there is something you can bring or do that helps you (and won’t block access to your mouth), please do bring it along. Everyone needs a security blanket at some time in their lives, and we always welcome yours (even if it’s not an actual blanket).
Of course, if your fear of the dentist is too difficult to face, or have developed into a full-blown phobia, then even those steps don’t help. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry – we can still help. All you need to do is ask your dentist about using sedation during your procedure to help manage the anxiety. This means you are sedated during the procedure but still conscious, and you should simply come around afterward having had the work done, with not a lot of memory of what happened and none of the stress. This can be the perfect way for phobic patients to still take care of their teeth. At Appledore, we offer a sedation treatment option for nervous patients, so just chat to our reception staff to see if it would be suitable for you.
If you are nervous about visiting the dentist, it’s important that you know you’re not alone. There are hundreds of people out there who are afraid of visiting the dentist, from those who get butterflies while they’re in the waiting room all the way to those who physically can’t bring themselves to make the appointment. At Appledore, we are happy to treat anyone and everyone! Our dentists are all specially trained to deal with nervous patients, and are always happy to work with you to find the right approach to treatment. To find out more, just get in touch with us today.