Guest post by Danny Callan
Sweaty palms, shaky fingers, heartbeat going like mad? You’re probably scared, but you don’t have to worry. Dental phobia is a serious thing. A lot of people will wave it off because in the end, you will still have to go to the dentist to make sure your teeth are happy. But it’s still a common issue and can be disturbing for many people. As a result, people with this phobia will avoid going to check-ups, until they are basically forced by hand. At 360 Dental, we’re quite used to helping patients who have a fear of the dentist. So, instead of just telling you to deal with it, we have created a list that can help you with your fears.
Talk to your dentist
Talking about your fears might actually be scarier than your actual fear but trust us when we say it will be good for you. Speaking to your dentist about your worries will help them understand how to make the environment comfortable for you, and it will help you feel like you can trust them. Your dentist will probably be more than happy to talk through each step of the treatment as they go through it, which is proven to be extremely helpful with anxious patients.
Find the right dentist
Don’t stop until you find someone you actually like because, as much as we hate to say it, you have to go to the dentist and you don’t want to be dreading it every time just because you are stuck with the dentist you don’t like. Organise some appointments and figure out whether the dentists are accommodating to your needs, whether the building is spacious and whether it just makes you relax a bit more. If the surroundings make you feel even more nervous or the dentist isn’t being accommodating then you can simply walk away – don’t settle for second best just because taking care of your teeth is important, take time to get to know them and that can go a long way in getting through your appointments.
Bring something to listen to
If having your dentist talk through what they are about to do will just make you more nervous then maybe opt for music instead. Listening to your own music or a podcast will help take your mind away from the probing that is going on in your mouth. If there ever was a time to listen to guilty pleasures without being judged, now is. Some people prefer listening to familiar music – something that reminds you of a happy memory, but basically just listen to anything you can truly concentrate on.
Bring someone with you
A friend, a family member, maybe a dog? Not sure if you’re allowed to bring pets into a dentist appointment, but can’t hurt to ask, right? Bringing somebody will help give you an extra layer of support so that you feel more comfortable and relaxed. This means that they will be able to talk to you during the appointment, focus your mind on something else and, before you know it, your appointment will be over! Also, it makes the whole experience a bit more enjoyable – going to the dentist isn’t exactly the most exciting thing but bringing a friend might be a laugh.
If there was any reason to go shopping or go for a meal, this would be it. Having to face your fears is difficult, but when it comes to the dentist, it’s pretty necessary – unless you don’t care about taking care of your teeth anyway. In fact, you can even make it become a day out – it will be nice to look forward to something else after spending the day not looking forward to the appointment. In fact, if you’re bringing somebody with you, then the whole experience can become even more enjoyable. By the end of the day, your dentist appointment will be nothing but a small task and you probably would have forgotten about it the second you walk out the door.
Change your diet
When it comes to anxiety, some foods can make it worse. Before your dentist appointment, avoid any drinks high in caffeine or foods high in sugar. These will make you shaky and more anxious, so taking them out of your diet will be a huge help. Obviously, we’re not talking about forever, just on the day of your visit – as soon as you walk out of the building, you can down a latte. Plus, technically it’s also healthy to reduce these ingredients anyway. So, if you’re up for trying a new diet at the same time, it’s a win-win situation.
Obviously, if you’re scared of the dentist, the last thing you want to do is to do it again. But, if we’re being honest, that’s the best way to get over fears or at least to the point where you are comfortable with them. This way, you’ll get to know your dentist, get to trust them and that’s important. Plus, hopefully, after a few times, you will become aware of what happens during your appointments, so nothing should surprise you when it’s just a simple check-up.
Plan ahead of your appointment
A lack of organisation can make your anxiety worse than it has ever been. Planning ahead of your appointment and having spare time will help you feel calmer about the visit – it gives you time to practice some breathing movements, listen to some music and just chill out. If you’re rushing, then you’re more likely to panic and over think about the situation which will raise your anxiety levels through the roof.
Going to the dentist doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. While it is a lot harder to just “face your fears”, there are things you can do to help with the problem. Trying out some of these steps is just the beginning, but the most important thing is to find a dentist that you feel comfortable with and the more often you go, the more you will get used to it.
Baby steps. If your dentist is good, they will take what you need in consideration by giving you control, making you relaxed and scheduling during calmer times.
Danny works for 360 Dental, one of Manchester’s most popular dentists. They help 1,000’s of residents in Manchester create their perfect smile.