Should I be Afraid of the Dentist?
Throughout history Dentistry has terrified patients to the core. Before anesthetics were discovered, dental procedures caused agony to patients. However, despite our advancement in dentistry and pain relief some still choose to avoid the dentist completely. Why?
One patient described her past experiences as ‘uncomfortable and unsettling’. She said sitting in the dental chair made her feel particularly ‘vulnerable and exposed’. This lead to her avoiding the dentist for years! Perhaps you can relate to these feelings. However, is such anxiety justified? What can help you tackle your fear of the dental chair?
Well, unlike back in the dark ages, we are now able to perform most procedures with very little pain or discomfort to the patient. Fortunately, there are a variety of methods and treatments available to reduce pain and alleviate fear. Being familiar with what is involved in each step of your treatment might allay some of your fears.
What to expect?
It’s very likely, that your visit to the dentist will never be as painful as you might expect. In fact, many of our patients have found that they anticipated more discomfort than what they actually experienced.
Still, even if you know you’re going to survive, anxiety can be very difficult to control. It may help to attend your first appointment with someone you trust, a friend or a realtive who doesn’t fear the dentist. We can asure you we treat a lot of patients like yourself, and it always helps us to know your concerns in advance so we can book a little longer time and spending each step of the way.
What will we do to help you?
First of all, it’s good to discuss your fears with us and the rest of the team (from the receptionist to the dental nurse and dentist). Every patient is different so it’s important to let us know how you feel so we can assist you in the best way. Often your first visit will involve a friendly discussion about your oral health, and any possible treatment you may need. Once you’ve looked at all the options, we will then explain what to expect from your treatment.
The patient mentioned at the start recalls the stress that comes from ‘entrusting someone you’ve often never met before not to hurt you’, and how during a procedure ‘you can’t speak to articulate that you’ve had enough’. These thoughts can contribute to your anxiety, so your dentist will give you the opportunity to stop the procedure at any time you feel uncomfortable. Before treatment begins, decide what signal you will give (such as a raised hand) if you want a break.
It may also help to distract yourself too. Listen to your own music on headphones or get the dentist to play something you like in the surgery. Try relaxation techniques or review with your dentist which sedatives are available or appropriate. Options include local anesthetic, oral sedatives, and IV sedation.
As you can see there are many things that can be done to make your visit to the dentist as painless as possible. Don’t allow your fear to stop you getting the best oral healthcare advice. By focusing on preventative care, early detection and treatment, your visit to the dentist need not be an unpleasant or fearful experience!