Dr Yasmin Zeina shares her thoughts on dental anxiety.
A lot of people have some anxiety about coming to the dentist. This can sometimes be attributed to previous bad experiences (such as the dreaded school dentist), apprehension about what to expect, worries about being told off or even embarrassment over your smile. In all honesty it makes sense – there are very few situations in life where you have to trust someone with something you cannot always physically see. The good news is that dental anxiety or phobia doesn’t have to continue, as there are ways you can feel more in control of your care and manage well with treatment. Here are a few things we encourage our patients here at Evolve can do to help ease your worries.
Finding a dentist you like and trust will be one of the biggest ways of reducing your dental anxiety. Not every dentist likes to tell people off for not flossing daily, some of us even like to have a little chuckle during our appointments. When you find a dentist that you feel able to talk to you’ll find that not only will your appointments feel more relaxed, but you will also feel more confident to ask the questions important to you. This means that we can work together to give you confidence in your smile.
Everybody is different – some people like their appointments to be quiet and relaxed, some people like to be talked through the treatment as it is being carried out, and others don’t want to know what is happening and prefer to talk about the latest podcasts they’re listening to. At Evolve, we try to personalise your appointment based on your preferences, but unfortunately we’re not mind readers. Your healthy mouth reviews and new patient consultation are a great opportunity to let us know how we can make you feel more comfortable. Personally, I like listening to a bit of Fleetwood Mac during my appointments!
There is a reason why ‘mind over matter’ is a common saying. Our psychology, and the things we think, can impact the way our body responds to certain situations. Anxious thoughts and feelings before an appointment can lead to quickening in breath, increased heart rate and muscle tension. A couple useful distracting techniques I often use with my nervous patients include deep conscious breathing where you visualise the air filling your lungs and imagine the built up energy flowing out of you during your exhale. Another alternative is progressive muscle relaxation. Next time you’re nervous during your appointment try focusing on tensing and relaxing each muscle, starting from your toes all the way to your head. Lastly, some dentists may try guided imagery where you think about your favourite place. The devil is in the detail, so remember to think about the specifics of what you like about this place. It’s hard to feel tense when imagining eating the most gorgeous ice cream on a warm sunny day, with the sound of the ocean in the background!
Unfortunately this is a common reason why people avoid coming to the dentist. Our goal is to give you the information needed to keep things healthy and looking great. Everyone has things they’re worried about and changes they’d like to see. Please consider your appointment a chance to address these as opposed to hiding them.
If you’ve been putting off visiting the dentist because you are anxious, we hope that these tips help you. If you have any questions please call us on 01275 842550, our team are very experienced at helping anxious patients overcome their concerns, the first step is to pick up the phone.