Description

Dental anxiety is common can be experienced in varying degrees of severity, from a feeling of uneasiness at having to visit the dentist to a highly prohibitive phobia. While it is common for people to be wary of dental work (with outmoded images of the dentist drill), avoiding regular check-ups can be seriously detrimental to your oral hygiene and in turn your confidence in dentistry.

The Toothpick guide to coping with anxiety and dental phobias


Dental anxiety is common can be experienced in varying degrees of severity, from a feeling of uneasiness at having to visit the dentist to a highly prohibitive phobia. While it is common for people to be wary of dental work (with outmoded images of the dentist drill), avoiding regular check-ups can be seriously detrimental to your oral hygiene and in turn your confidence in dentistry.


There are a variety of reasons you might have a fear of the dentist and feel anxious about getting dental treatment. For example, a fear about the procedures (such as fillings) causing dental pain, being unsettled by the dentist chair or uneasy about the intimacy of a check-up, or affected by a negative past experience.


The good news is, whatever the reason for your discomfort, there are a number of ways how to deal with anxiety and take steps towards overcoming it:


Talk to a dentist - While it might not be your first choice, you are most likely to receive useful advice from a dentist. Some, but not all, specialise in treating people who suffer from dental anxiety. Looking online for such a practice and going in to talk about your problems can help. For example, they may be able to ease you towards a state where you’d feel able to undergo treatment, allowing you to first feel at ease before attempting to progress things further.


Talk to a GP - Alternatively, your GP may be able to put you forward to a professional specialising in cognitive behavioural therapy; a technique that can be used to change the way you think about certain aspects of life. This could be especially effective if your anxiety is based on a bad experience during childhood and has prevented you from visiting a dentist for years.


Bring a friend - A popular way to boost your confidence is to bring someone along for support. Many sufferers of dental anxiety fare better when they are not alone and most dentists will not mind if you wish to be accompanied.


The distraction technique - As your anxiety is essentially psychological, this one of the most straightforward strategies to use. This involves using a pleasant stimulus to keep your mind off the procedure itself and help you to relax. For example, depending on the practice facilities available, you might be able to watch a DVD, listen to some music or an audio book.


Hypnotherapy - though not a medically certified way to cure anxiety, it does help many people feel more relaxed and better able to cope with certain situations. It works by using the power of suggestion to help alter your mental approach to certain problems, helping you to surmount obstacles in your thinking.


Sedation - Using dental sedation, such as oral sedatives or intravenous sedation, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be rendered unconscious. Many forms will leave you awake, but in a state of heightened tranquillity. Your powers of reasoning and sense of coordination may also be diminished.


A general anaesthetic is generally seen as being a last resort and would only be employed if you were genuinely unable to undergo treatment via other methods. You will be completely unconscious for the entirety of the procedure and will need someone to keep an eye on you for up to 24 hours after the treatment.

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