Being ‘afraid of the dentist’ may mean different things to different people. It will probably help if you work out just what it is that worries you most.
Maybe the sounds and smells bring back memories of bad experiences as a child, or the thought that having treatment will hurt.
The good news is that more and more dentists now understand their patients’ fears, and with a combination of kindness and gentleness can do a great deal to make dental treatment an acceptable, normal part of life.
I have been scared of the dentist for a long while – what is it like now?
Dental techniques have improved so much over the last few years, that modern dental treatment can now be completely painless. Despite this, most people still feel a little nervous at the thought of going to the dentist.
If you have not been to see a dentist for some time, you will probably find that things have improved a lot since your last visit. The general attitude is likely to be more relaxed, the dental techniques and safety procedures will be much better, and the equipment will be more up to date.
How do I choose a dentist?
The first fear to deal with is the fear of admitting to other people that you are afraid of dental treatment. If you can discuss it with your friends or colleagues you are likely to find someone else who has similar problems, and who may be able to recommend a dentist to you. A dentist who is personally recommended by another nervous person is usually a very good choice.
Do some practices specialise in treating nervous patients?
Yes. This means that they should be used to dealing with nervous patients regularly.
As someone who is nervous about dental treatment, you need to be looked after by a dental practice that will take special care of you. You may need to travel some distance, but it will be worth the effort when you are no longer afraid.
I haven’t been to the dentist in a long time, will I need a lot of treatment?
Years ago it was normal for people to need fillings every time they went to their dentist, but things have changed for the better now. With the help of your dentist, the aim now is for healthy teeth and mouths that stay healthy. Using a fluoride toothpaste will help to strengthen your teeth and prevent decay. Therefore, you may be surprised at how little treatment you need.
Teeth are for life and can last a lifetime if they are looked after properly. If you can get your mouth into good shape, with the help of the dentist and dental hygienist, you should need less treatment and there will be less for the dentist to do in the future.
It is important to keep up your regular visits to the dentist, not only to monitor tooth decay, but also to help prevent gum disease.
Once your mouth is healthy, your visits to the practice will often just be easy sessions for checking and cleaning.
How do I start?
It may be helpful for you to see the practice before you arrange an appointment. Call in to speak to the receptionist, and see what the atmosphere is like. Do the other people there look cheerful and happy? Does it give you a feeling of confidence?
Should I tell the dental team that I am nervous?
Make sure that the practice knows you are nervous, so that they can help you.
Tell your dentist what it is that you particularly dislike about dental treatment. If you think you know the reason, tell your dentist what may have caused your fear.