Have you ever feared going to the dentist and not sure how to cope in this situation? Dental phobia is extremely common and can effect anyone. In the UK 53% of the population suffers from fear or anxiety when visiting the dentist and 17% of the UK suffer from a level of fear to an extent where they completely avoid their dental appointment.
According to Better health, avoiding the dentist can result in dental disease getting worse, a much bigger need for emergency care which can also feed the underlying problem with anxiety. This is also known as the ‘vicious cycle of dental anxiety’.
The two main things to look at if you suffer or believe you suffer from dental phobia is what you can do to calm any nerves before an appointment and how you can practice relaxation during your appointment.
Here at the Dental Law Partnership, we encourage everyone to make sure they seek the right information and help people to cope with the fear of going to the dentist. A recent survey we conducted showed that in 40% of people a past experience at the dentist has resulted in dental anxiety.
Potential causes of dental anxiety and phobia –
• a traumatic dental experience or other healthcare experience
• previous trauma to the head and neck
• other traumatic experiences, including abuse
• generalised anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder
• the view that the mouth is a personal area and accessing the mouth is an invasion of personal space
• trust issues
• anxiety associated with other conditions such as agoraphobia (fear of being in situations where you feel you cannot escape), claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces) or obsessive
compulsive disorder where there is an obsession around cleanliness.
Here are some tips for coping with dental anxiety–
• Find an understanding dentist with experience of helping dental phobic patients
• Visit the surgery to look around before you commit
• Pick an early morning appointment time – giving you less time to think about it on the day
• Take a friend or family member with you
• Agree a signal with your dentist that you want to take a break
• Start with a clean/descale and polish rather than straight into any extensive treatment that may be required
• Take music and headphones with you to listen to during the visit