If you have a fear of the dentist, then you’re certainly not alone. You may be surprised to know that according to the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health 1 in 6 adults and about 1 in 10 children are affected by high dental fear.
Fear of the dentist can be so acute that even phoning to make an appointment can leave a person dry-mouthed and weak at the knees. But what triggers this fear and how can you overcome it?
What causes dental fear?
For many people, fear of the dentist is not knowing what to expect. They may have had a bad experience with a dentist in the past, or they may have an inkling that they need significant dental work which is going to be costly.
It’s difficult not to let thoughts such as these play on your mind, particularly when your appointment has been booked weeks in advance.
Many things can also trigger memories of the dentist such as certain antiseptic smells, or sounds which resemble the dentist’s drill. These triggers can prevent you from keeping your appointment and before you know it, you’re in a vicious circle which is difficult to break.
Despite this, you might not like what I’m going to tell you next…
Avoiding the dentist is probably not an option
Not attending regular check-ups can and do cause oral health and dental problems which can escalate if not treated, and lead to other serious medical problems.
Did you know, for instance, that poor oral health has been linked to medical conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even dementia? It’s true!
Gum disease, for instance, may not sound like a dangerous condition, but it is a bacterial infection which can enter the bloodstream and access the whole of the body.
Now we know what you’re thinking…
What use is telling me this stuff when I have a fear of the dentist? Because it’s important to understand the consequences of not going to the dentist.
It’s a great feeling when you manage to overcome your demons and brush them aside, particularly when doing so will reap benefits that last a lifetime.
Your dentist isn’t there to worry, upset, or cause you discomfort and just by telling them of your fear can make you feel more at ease. Here are a few other tips that may help you overcome your fear of the dentist.
Find the right dentist
With dental fear being so common, there are an increasing number of dentists specialising in treating anxious or nervous patients. When you phone us for an appointment for example, simply mention your situation and you’ll be placed with a caring dentist who has experience of dealing with anxious patients.
Get your timing right
If at all possible, try booking an appointment for first thing in the morning so that you don’t spend all day worrying about it. Should you have to settle for a later appointment then you could always try some relaxation tips to help keep you calm.
Yes, we know it’s nigh on impossible to communicate verbally with someone’s hand in your mouth during treatment but speak to your dentist beforehand and you can arrange a signal that indicates you want to stop for a breather. Something as simple as raising your finger should suffice.
These are all tips which may help get you through the dentist’s door but what if you’re still anxious about receiving treatment? What else can be done?
Something to smile about
The good news is that here at Randwick Smiles we utilise inhalation sedation dentistry for patients suffering from mild to moderate anxiety.
Put simply, a patient inhales small amounts of nitrous oxide mixed with oxygen through a small nasal inhaler placed over their nose. As they inhale the mixture they start to feel relaxed, happy, and without a care in the world – hence the term ‘happy gas’.
This technique is also designed to suppress the senses so you’re barely aware of what’s going on around you and before you know it your treatment is over. When used in small quantities like this, you won’t feel sick or groggy and will be back to normal in as little as 5 minutes and able to make your own way home.
If you or a loved one have a fear of the dentist, don’t let it prevent you from going to the dentist and keeping your oral health in check. Give Randwick Smiles a call today on (02) 8188 4625 and ask us about how inhalation sedation dentistry can help you.