Fear of the dentist can cause many Brits to miss crucial checkups and simple treatments for years on end if they feel as though their fear is too big to overcome. However, there are simple steps and guidance that can help in the journey to overcome ‘dentophobia’ and get your oral health back on track.
The issues caused by a fear of the dentist were evident in our recent study looking into UK dental habits. Shockingly, over a quarter of Brits are cancelling or delaying dental appointments because they are scared. The survey also revealed that worryingly over a third haven’t had their teeth checked for at least two years. Sheffield was revealed as the city that visited the dentist the least, with close to half (42%) admitting to avoiding oral check-ups for two years or more.
So why are we so scared of the dentist? The pain was revealed as the number one reason that puts Brits off, with nearly half (46%) saying they were fearful that their experience would leave them in agony, while over a third (34%) are scarred by a previous visit. 32% are concerned it will cost too much.
Although the NHS recommends that most people should visit the dentist at least once a year, our data shows that these health recommendations are not only being ignored but that people are too scared to take a visit to improve their oral health. With this in mind, we want to provide straightforward tips to make a visit to the dentist more manageable and encourage Brits to take their yearly trip to the dentist.
These tips can help you to have a more relaxing experience when taking a trip to the dentist and eventually aid in overcoming your fear:
- Find a dentist that is knowledgeable on fears and phobias – there are dentists out there who are fully understanding of your worries and can help to ease your mind through the whole process of taking a trip to check your teeth.
- Become familiar with the dental practice – take a trip to your dental surgery to meet the staff and express your fears so that they are aware before you attend for an appointment. This means that there will be no added surprises on the day of the appointment which could cause added anxiety.
- Get up and go – pick a time early in the morning so that you can get up and go to your appointment, giving you have less time to overthink the experience. It is also important to remember that your first trip is usually a simple check-up with no treatment, so take the time to chat with your dentist and work on remaining calm.
- Don’t go it alone – if you feel you need support for your trip to the dentist, bring along a friend or family member. They can reassure you and distract you whilst you’re at an appointment, a simple ongoing conversation can work wonders. A dentist is used to having company in an appointment so don’t hesitate to bring someone along.
- Develop a gesture for a break – even if you are powering through your appointment, it’s OK to find yourself overwhelmed. Agreeing on a gesture with your dentist to let them know that you would like a break beforehand is a great way to remain in control of the situation. The gesture can be as simple as raising your arm or tapping on the dentist’s chair to let them know you need a breather.
- Work your way up to treatment – If you know that you need treatment at the dentist, rather than a simple check-up, agree on a schedule with the dentist to work your way up to the treatment. You can begin with a clean and polish of your teeth then move up to other treatments such as fillings before your treatment appointment. You can always repeat previous treatments such as a clean if you’re still uneasy. This schedule helps you to build a relationship with your dentist and build trust.
- Distract yourself – pop some headphones on and play your favourite songs in treatment so that you are removed from the stressful situation. You can even listen to relaxing meditation music that is made to make you feel calm.
Hopefully, these tips and tricks can help you get started on your journey to overcoming your fear of the dentist. Feel free to personalise these steps to suit you and you’ll be making your way to your next appointment with ease.