Research from the British Dental Foundation has identified that around 20% of us fear visiting the dentist. Of those who don’t visit the dentist regularly 36% cite fear as their main reason for not going.
Unfortunately though, not visiting the dentist can cause significant oral health problems. If you don’t have regular dental check-ups you cannot identify problems in their early stages and you can turn simple, treatable ailments into life threatening problems.
Fear can be a powerful stimulator but we can overcome our dental phobias using a few, often very simple techniques. With that in mind here are some of the best techniques to use.
Talking to a dentist
The best place to start is to talk to a dentist or a dental practice. If you can’t face actually visiting a practice then try and arrange a phone consultation.
In the consultation try and discuss your fears and let the dentist know what they can do to help relax you. Things to discuss should include;
- What causes your fears
- Whether taking regular breaks would help
- Whether having steps in treatment carefully explained would help
- Whether you like to be talked to before and during treatment
All these options can help you feel more relaxed around a dentist. They are human too and really have no desire to scare you or cause you avoidable discomfort.
Using Distraction Techniques
Distraction techniques are designed to help your mind think of other things whilst you have treatment. There are a variety of great distraction techniques you might want to consider but we’d recommend any of the following
- Taking an mp3 player with you and listening to relaxing music
- Having a friend sit in with you to talk to you
- Asking the dental nurse to talk to you
- Counting in your head
Anything that might work for you is worth considering and anything that won’t interfere with your treatment is worth trying to help you relax and be distracted.
Using Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques are incredibly helpful if you want to ease your stress before and during treatment. There are a two options here that have been shown to help patients with dental anxiety.
Gentle exercise is very good at relaxing the body. We’d rather you didn’t enter a practice straight from a ten mile run but if you exercise and then shower just before your treatment your body will be at its most relaxed. Even gentle exercise has been shown to help you relax.
2. Breathing Exercises
Practicing controlled breathing acts as both a relaxation and distraction technique and is really helpful. Breathing through your mouth can be tricky during treatment so practice timed breathing through your nose. Three deep breaths in and out slowly is a great way to bring your heart rate down and to keep your mind occupied whilst you count the slow inhales and exhales.
Therapy and Support Groups
If these techniques don’t help you to overcome your dental fears then you may want to look to support groups and therapy to cure the underlying issues that cause your fear.
Online then are a wide number of support groups, such as the one at Dental Fear Central, where you can talk to other people with similar issues and find the support and techniques to help you.
If these don’t help then therapy might be the best course of action. You can seek treatment for dental phobia on the NHS and there are actually a number of specialist dealing with dental phobias as it is a common fear for many of us.
We wish you the best of luck overcoming your dental fears and hope this helps put you on the path to safe oral hygiene.
Dove Dental Care is a Derby dentist offering gentle and caring dentistry with a range of techniques, such as dental sedation to help with dental fear and anxiety