Fear of the dentist – how to overcome dental anxiety, fears and phobias.
Dental fear, phobia or anxiety prevents many people from visiting the dentist to get necessary dental treatment in order to keep their teeth and mouth in good condition. Consequently dental health can suffer considerably.
Oral health depends on regular visits to the dentist to ensure a good preventative dental hygiene and treatment regime. Failure to do this will result in gum, teeth and mouth problems. Often when a sufferer of dental anxiety finally manages to visit their dentist, a small, easily treatable problem has become a major oral issue. Consequently it is important to overcome your fear of the dentist or dental anxiety as soon as possible.
Many techniques exist for helping dental phobics ranging from the use of mild sedatives to hypnotherapy. Often, simple good communication involving listening to concerns and answering related questions is all that is needed.
Overcoming dental phobia
It is widely believed that conquering dental fears and phobias starts with finding a good dentist! Key attributes are:
- good communicator
- endeavours to make each visit as pain free as possible
- genuine carer
- sympathetic to past problems and dental traumas
You must visit your dental practice and ask them about their practice policy for working with patients who “fear the dentist”.
Many dentists who have been successful in helping their patients overcome dental fear and anxiety describe their approach as follows:
Initial consultation – a “get to know you” visit where full dental history is taken and procedures and dental techniques are explained. The policy for working with patients suffering dental anxiety should be explained at this stage.
The second visit – normally a further discussion about the specific dentistry fears that a client holds. If appropriate, simple “pain free” dental procedures e.g. tooth cleaning, may be performed at this visit.
Future visits – further dental procedures will be carried out after careful consultation with the patient. Good dentists will explain exactly what they intend to do and indeed what they are actually doing during the dentistry procedure. It is critical that every attempt is made to put the patient at ease at all stages – minimising any pressure!
Some dentists are starting to use a technique known as guided imagery where they will discuss positive experiences like vacations. Others play soothing background music and employ techniques like virtual reality goggles to show DVDs and other distracting imagery.
It is almost certain that dental fear and anxiety can be overcome if a good dentist and patient relationship can be established. Open communication and trust is essential and application of modern “minimally invasive” dental techniques can also assist.
Always discuss your fears and anxieties with your dentist and never suffer in silence!
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