The Oral Health Foundation reports that although more people visit the dentist regularly now than in previous decades, almost half of all adult patients in the UK are scared of doing so (http://www.nationalsmilemonth.org/facts-figures/). There are many and varied reasons that lay behind dental anxiety, but thankfully there are also several ways in which you can alleviate your fears sufficiently and enable you to visit a dentist without panicking.
Your choice of dentist can greatly affect how positive or negative your next visit will be. If you currently suffer from dental anxiety, search for a dental practice that offers specialist support for nervous patients. Look for practices that offer a range of options to soothe anxieties and that aim to deliver a more relaxing and positive experience at your appointment.
Care and empowerment
A good dentist will be highly trained not only in providing state-of-the-art dental treatments but also in listening carefully to their patients.
They will talk you through each stage of your visit and work closely with you to ensure that you feel as empowered as possible. For example, patients sometimes feel panic at the thought that in the middle of treatment (with dental tools in their mouths), they won’t be able to ask their dentist to stop a procedure if they feel any discomfort. If this were one of your concerns, your dentist could, for example, suggest that you make a simple hand gesture to stop a procedure so that you could ask any questions or simply take a breather. By having those discussions with you, your dentist can ensure that your anxieties are managed from the outset and minimise any stress or discomfort you may feel.
If your dental anxiety or phobia is such that the idea of a visit to the dentist is causing you real concern, you should always mention this when arranging an appointment through the dental receptionist. Anxiety-aware practices will ensure that you can discuss your needs further with one of the dentists, possibly with a view towards being offered sedation at your appointment.
There are two main types of sedation:
– ‘Magic air’ (also known as gas and air) is often given to anxious children but is also effective for adult patients. When inhaled, it allows the patient to feel ‘floaty’ and relaxed; it is fast-acting and entirely safe.
– IV sedation is delivered through a painless injection (given only after the skin is numbed with an anaesthetic cream). The sedative leaves the patient conscious, but feeling as though they are asleep. It also acts as an amnesiac, meaning that patients rarely remember anything about the procedure afterwards. This type of anaesthesia can take a few hours to wear off after the procedure, so if it is recommended for you then you will need to bring someone with you who can take you home by car to rest afterwards as you will feel drowsy.
Sedation can be used for any procedures, under the safe care of experienced and proficient dentist professionals who will monitor you closely throughout your visit.
If you would like to consider drug-free solutions to your dental anxieties, we are proud to be able to offer hypno-sedation at Evolve Dentistry. This is a type of hypnosis and is ideal for any patient whose anxieties would otherwise prevent them from seeking the dental treatment they need to keep their smile beautiful and healthy.
You may be sceptical of how well hypnosis can work, particularly if your anxieties are very powerful, but it really can work wonders for some patients. Delivered by dental professionals, hypnosis is entirely safe and you will remain in control of your actions and words throughout your procedure. It is ideal for regular visits, and over time you will lose the association you may have built up between visiting a dentist and feeling afraid. You will begin to associate your appointments with feelings of relaxation and trust.
You may find this difficult to believe if you have a dental phobia or are very worried about visiting a dentist, but many very anxious and frightened patients have become very relaxed and much more willing to attend regular appointments after hypno-sedation sessions. It is a cost-effective, efficacious and drug-free alternative to dental sedation. If you would like to know more about it or would like to try it at your next appointment, speak to us about how it can be incorporated into your next appointment.