Today we have a guest author on our blog, Alex Mungo. Alex is a freelance writer specializing in the health and dental niche. He has written for numerous health publications in the digital sphere and currently works for a dental practice based in Highbury and Islington in London UK. We are happy to get to share his work with you.
Dental Fear affects around 20% of the population. Few of us relish the chance to go to the dentist and spend our time and money but for many of us we avoid the dentist completely.
The problem is that this fear of the dentist can end up costing us a lot of money. One of the best defenses for your oral health and your wallet is to actually attend regular dental check-ups. This way your dentist can identify any issues before they have become serious problems. Here we take a look at some of the ways you can alleviate dental fear and help your finances in the process. Be sure to check out 1Dental’s discount plans to save money too!
The most important place to start is by talking with a dentist or nurse about your anxieties. Many people tend to build up mental walls around dental practitioners that make it harder to interact with them on a personal level. A dentist is not trying to cause you unnecessary pain or discomfort and his or her job will be much easier if you are relaxed.
So a good place to start is by expressing your concerns, asking the dentist to allow you to take breaks and asking him or her to guide you through their work. If you agree these steps before booking an appointment you will already be more relaxed and the dental practitioner can make sure they have allocated enough time for your treatment.
2. Dental Fear Relaxation Techniques
If the dentist makes you nervous the best thing you can do is practice relaxation techniques to keep your mind distracted and you relaxed.
If you find yourself getting panicky at the dentist, try to practice controlled breathing. Controlled breathing is simple and effective – you simply breathe in slowly for a count of three and then exhale slowly for the same amount of time. This helps slow your heart rate and keeps your mind focused on breathing rather than the dentist.
Exercising helps relax your muscles and your brain through the release of endorphins. Whilst we wouldn’t suggest running a marathon and then going to the dentist, if you can finish exercising half an hour before your appointment, your body and mind will be more relaxed. Even a gentle walk before an appointment will help.
Dental Fear Distraction Techniques
Distraction techniques can be used in conjunction with relaxation techniques to keep your mind focused away from the dentist. Talking during a treatment can really help. Whilst you can’t talk through an appointment your dentist, a friend or a nurse can. Having someone chatting to you helps focus your mind and distracts you from your treatment. Listening to your MP3 player has much the same effect and can make it much easier to bear through your treatment.
3. Therapy and Treatments for Severe Dental Phobia
If these techniques don’t help when you visit the dentist, then you will need to seek therapy or specialist treatments. These can both be very expensive options which may not be covered by some dental policies.
All phobias can be treated and dental phobia is no different. The fear is so common that there are specialist therapists throughout the country. A therapist will uncover and treat the root causes of your fears. However, there are also support groups online that deal with these fears including Dental Fear Central – which acts as an online support network for people with Odontophobia.
Sedation is one way you can avoid dental phobia as you simply go to sleep for your treatment. The most common treatment option is called conscious sedation. This is a relatively minor form of sedation that poses significantly less risks than sedation used for extensive surgeries. You will be given the sedatives either intravenously or through injection. This takes effect rapidly and you may fall asleep but will still be able to respond to verbal cues and wake up when prompted.
This is an effective treatment option for severe dental phobia. However, this is a very costly option that can only be used in the most extreme cases. Many practices throughout the country do offer this option but the price tag is very high.
The most important step is to recognize your own fears and discover the strategies and techniques that will work for you. We hope this sheds some light on dental phobias and that you manage to work through your own fears and visit the dentist – as your oral health is incredibly important, to us and to you.
Do you struggle with dental phobia? What techniques do you use to relax? We’d love to hear your input in the comments below!