None of us feel very enthusiastic about going to the dentist – but it’s a sad fact that many of us absolutely dread it. In America alone, an estimated 80% of people feel anxious, and up to 14% feel intensely anxious, according to a recent survey.

    While it’s pretty normal to be nervous, any kind of feelings that stop you seeking regular dental treatment definitely need a little attention. Avoiding the dentist can actually be very counterproductive, making more work a necessity when you do finally make the trip. Studies have shown that those avoiding the dentist often suffer from gum disease or more advanced stages of tooth decay, simply because a professional hasn’t been able to identify and treat the problem early on.

      If you dread visiting the dentist, here’s a few ways to try and change that.

      • Talk to your dentist
      • Just like in a scary film, often the worst bit is the anticipation. Worrying about ‘what might happen’ just leads to more stress, as your imagination goes into overdrive. So, the first way to dispel fears is to talk to your dentist. A conversation on the phone or in person is a great start. Remember, the dentist’s job is to find a way to help you overcome those feelings – and you aren’t the first person to experience them! A lot of anxiety can be based on feelings of loss of control, though you may not be aware of it. By talking to a dentist and finding out exactly what happens in a dental appointment, you’ll feel a whole lot better.

        • Choose your provider carefully
        • At Drs. Nicolas & Asp we have extensive experience in dealing with a range of patients, from those that might feel just a little nervous, to those who have a full-blown phobia. Our staff will treat you respectfully and with patience, and will move at your pace. Visiting the dental surgery without an appointment can often be a good way to familiarise yourself with the surroundings. And, if you go ahead with an examination but want to stop or leave, you can do so at any point.

          • Prepare
          • This might sound obvious, but try and relax. If the dentist is just one of a hundred things on your to-do list, stress can trigger anxiety that you might not normally feel. Make sure you allow yourself enough time to get to and from your appointment, and schedule it for a quiet period, when you won’t have a ringing phone or the kids to distract you. Practicing some deep breathing while in the waiting room can also help calm last-minute nerves.

            • Consider anesthetics
            • A main source of dental anxiety is a fear of pain – either a remembered experience, or maybe a bad story from a friend or relative. However, modern dentistry has a range of pain control analgesics and anesthetics. Sedatives can help make you feel more relaxed, and can be used in a range of situations, from simple tooth cleaning through to longer procedures. Nitrous oxide or ‘laughing gas’ is a mild form of sedation that even lets you drive home after the appointment. Or, you can take pills instead. If you prefer, general anesthetic can be used, which will mean you are in a deep sleep for the whole procedure. Your dentist will talk you through all your options, and will never perform any procedure without talking it through with you first.

              • Dealing with a phobia
              • It’s pretty normal to feel worried or a bit anxious, but if you can’t even think about going to the dentist without instantly being filled with fear or panic, then it could be time to seek alternative help. Dentophobia, or a fear of the dentist’s chair, is a common phobia and one that can be treated. A counsellor or professional can talk you through coping mechanisms for dealing with the fear.

                • Modern myths
                • While the dentist has a bad reputation for pain, it’s one that isn’t deserved. Often, choosing to delay a visit and suffering from the resultant toothache or discomfort is more painful than the procedure itself. Whatever your level of anxiety, it’s highly likely the appointment and any necessary procedures will be straightforward and pain-free for you.

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