Many patients are nervous about visiting the dentist. In fact, fear is the main reason that adults in the UK give for putting off seeking dental treatment, often neglecting their teeth for many years until an emergency arises that forces them to book a dental appointment. There are many reasons that patients give for being afraid of the dentist, from bad past experiences to a fear of being unable to get numb, or a phobia of the sights and sounds of the dental practice. Sometimes, patients fear being out of control. For those who haven't visited a dentist in many years, embarrassment may be a factor, as they fear being judged or criticised. Some people don't know the exact cause of their fear; whatever the reason, it can range from mild anxiety to complete phobia.
Here at Green Dental Practice we welcome nervous patients with care and sensitivity. If you're anxious about seeing the dentist, here are some tips to ease the fear:
Tips to ease dental fear
Visit the surgery to have a look around, meet the receptionist and dentist and see the environment. Tell the dentist that you're anxious and what your fears are, so they know beforehand.
Pick an appointment time early in the morning so you have less time to dwell on it.
The first appointment will simply be a check-up so don't worry about having any treatment. See this first visit as your chance to get to know the dentist.
Take a friend with you to your appointment. The dentist won't mind if they accompany you throughout the check-up or treatment.
Agree a sign with the dentist to signal that you need a break and want them to stop. It can be as simple as raising your hand, and will help you feel more in control.
pro-active breathing and relaxation techniques, these can help to calm your nerves and distract you from any procedures
If you think it will help, start gradually with a clean and polish then work up to other treatments, such as fillings, once you've built up trust and rapport with your dentist.
Talk to the dentist about using a numbing gel if you have a fear of needles.
Use headphones to listen to music during your visit. It may help you relax.
NHS sedation clinics If you're extremely nervous, ask your dentist to refer you to an NHS sedation clinic. These clinics are specifically for nervous dental patients. Some people find simple inhalation sedation very helpful to relax them for dental treatment. If you're extremely nervous you may prefer sedation through an injection into your hand or arm (intravenously) during treatment. The drugs won't send you to sleep – you'll be awake and able to talk to the dentist – but they'll calm and relax you so deeply you probably won't remember much of what happened.