Many people feel uncomfortable or scared at the thought of going to the dentist. It’s more common that you might think with over half of people in the UK experiencing fear or anxiety when a check-up is due. In fact, dental phobia tops fear of heights, snakes and zombies on the nation’s list of scaries.
It’s probably reassuring to know that you’re not alone and can be even more reassuring to know that we, as dentists, are here to help recognise the signs of dental anxiety and ease your concerns.
Do I have dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety can present itself in many different ways. You may avoid going to the dentist or find yourself missing appointments. You may also experience physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a fast heart rate, shaking, sweating, or a dry mouth, or maybe you clam up and find it hard to talk as soon as you’re in the dentist’s chair.
It can be tough to deal with, but there are things you can do to overcome your anxiety and keep your teeth healthy.
1. Listen to Music
Music can provide a great distraction when you’re at the dentist, drowning out any noise around you whilst making the whole experience feel a little less clinical. On your next visit, ask your dentist if you can have the radio on, if it isn’t already, or request to listen to your own music through headphones. Choose something relaxing that will distract you. Podcasts and audiobooks can be a good idea too.
2. Bring Someone for Support
Having someone with you can really help if you feel anxious about going to the dentist. They can hold your hand, talk to you, or just be a generally comforting and distracting presence.
3. Talk to Your Dentist
If you’re already anxious about going to the dentist, it’s probably not made better by being unfamiliar with the dentist you see. Taking the time to talk to your dentist not only helps you to feel a bit more comfortable but also gives you the chance to tell them that you’re nervous so that they’re more aware of how you’re feeling and can act accordingly.
4. Ask to Take Breaks
Dental checkups and procedures can feel long if you’re anxious. The good news is that you don’t have to push through it if you want to stop. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask to take a break. Of course, that can be hard to do when your mouth is wide open. Dentists and nurses can establish a non-verbal sign, like raising your hand, for when you want a break.
5. Have a Nurse in Attendance
Dentists will often have a dental nurse in the room with them as their assistant, as well as for safeguarding reasons. However, if there isn’t a nurse in the room, you can ask for one to be in attendance to reassure you.
Book with Exeter Advanced Dentistry
At Exeter Advanced Dentistry, our reception team takes pride in providing reassurance to anyone who needs it and can take you through your treatment options, as well as ensure your anxiety is taken seriously. Book a consultation and we will make sure that you receive the care that you need.