Does the thought of going to the dentist make you nervous? You are not alone.
Fear of dentists is one of the most common fears people have. For some, it is crippling - the buzz of the dental drill sends them running for the exit.
This anxiety commonly gets in the way of people scheduling a dental check-up or even turning up for their appointment. Their condition then worsens and more time passes, only adding to the pressure of a visit to the dentist.
Here are a few tips to help you break this vicious cycle.
1. Find the right dentist for you
Believe it or not, there are dentists who actually specialise in treating people with anxiety.
These dentists go the extra mile in eliminating environmental triggers, such as not showcasing before-and-after pictures that depict the horrors of tooth decay and gum disease. Most play calming music in the background, while some have even installed sound-proof doors to limit the noise made by other patients.
A dental clinic without these common anxiety cues can help a great deal.
2. Start with a free Pearlii check-up
The entire process is free, painless, and takes only 10 minutes. You can also book a dentist appointment within the app.
3. Talk to your dentist!
Your dentist can’t help you if you don’t talk to them.
Many dentists have a “safe signal” that patients can use to stop the procedure at any point. So, be upfront and open with your dentist about your fears and anxiety.
Better yet, let them know when you’re scheduling an appointment. Chances are they will book you in with someone who specialises in similar patients, or perhaps find you a less busy time.
4. Remember why you’re going to the dentist
Whenever you start to feel overcome by anxiety, remind yourself that you’re doing this because you need help, and to stop things going from bad to really bad.
5. Bring a buddy
More often than not, the anticipation of pain makes you more anxious than the actual pain.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the ambient sights and sounds while you’re in the waiting room. So, bring along a friend, partner, or relative along who can talk to you and help you stay calm.
Don’t be shy to bring your mum; we know, in all likelihood she scheduled the appointment ;-)
6. Skip coffee for a day
If you can’t start your day without that ‘caffeine hit’, you’re going to hate us for this one.
The sense of alertness offered by a good brew is a welcome feeling on most days, but it is usually accompanied by a spike in anxiety. So, that morning cuppa may not be the best idea before your appointment.
Try to skip this coffee, or replace it with some calming herbal tea.
7. Try some relaxation techniques
Muscle tension is one of the ways our body reacts to fear and anxiety, so why not try some relaxation techniques before your appointment.
Many people swear by controlled breathing - taking a deep breath, holding it, and letting it out slowly, like a leaky tire. This slows your heartbeat and relaxes your muscles.
8. Finally, let the music play!
Even if your mind tells you to relax, your body might not listen.
If the sound of the drill or the suction pump are your triggers, bring along your favourite tunes to distract you. If you happen to own noise-cancelling headphones, definitely bring them too!
Overcoming fear and anxiety is an ongoing process, which does not happen overnight, but we hope these simple techniques will be the boost you need to schedule an appointment to see a dentist.