Dentophobia (Fear of Dentists)

By Doctor Prav Solanki

Dentophobia is the fear of going to the dentist, and it is not something to be taken lightly. This fear can result in painful tooth conditions, tooth decay and a debilitating fear that stops you from living a regular life, with healthy teeth.

Visiting your dentist regularly is vital to maintaining a healthy mouth, so we’ve compiled a list of ways you can beat the fear.

Here are 10 techniques from to get over your fear of the dentist:

1. Book an early appointment

The earlier the appointment, the less time you will spend dwelling on it that day. Most dentists open from 8am, so it could be the first order of your day, to get it over and done with, leaving you to enjoy the rest of your day.

2. Establish a sign language

Whether it’s a check-up or a route canal, agree a hand signal with your dentist. For example, agree that if you raise your right hand, you would like a quick break from the procedure to calm down; if you raise your left hand, you are in pain.

Beginning a procedure with this kind of code laid out with your dentist can go a long way towards making you relax while you are in the chair. Dr Bohara from the Dental Suite says “putting your patients in control takes away most of the anxiety for many of our patients”

3. Find alternative anaesthetics

Many people put off going to the dentist because they have a fear of needles. Outside of a check-up, many procedures at a dentist will require you to have an injection into your gums, which are often painful as they are close to your sinuses, which are full of nerve endings.

This fear can be alleviated by speaking to your dentist about using alternatives, such as numbing gels, The Wand painless injection system or gas.

4. Listen to music

The radio is almost always on when you go to the dentist, but this isn’t nearly as comforting as bringing your own music to listen to.

An iPod or phone that’s loaded with your favourite music can really help to distract you during your appointments.

5. Seek out dentists who are trained to deal with anxious patients

Many dentists attend special courses to become qualified in dealing with nervous patients, meaning they put a great deal of effort into making you feel comfortable and relaxed. You can search these out online and book an appointment.

6. Explain your fears when you book

Letting the dentist know what exactly it is that you are afraid of when visiting means that they can do their best to minimise this fear during your appointment.

7. Take a friend

Dentists will be more than happy for you to bring a friend with you to your appointment or procedure, if them being there will help you to relax.

8. Ease yourself into treatment

To get used to going to the dentist regularly, try to begin your first visit by scheduling a simple and painless procedure, such as a scale and polish. This is little more than a tooth cleaning, so there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

Doing this will get you used to being in the room and getting back in the dentist chair. It will also give you the chance to speak to the dentist about your concerns about future procedures. When you finally need a procedure like a filling done, you will have built some trust up with the dentist who will perform the procedure.

9. Get to know your procedure

Most dentists will explain what they are going to do, but if you ask them to take you through what will happen, how long it will last and what you are likely to feel, this can help you to relax by knowing exactly what is going to happen. Dr Mike Goldstone from The Dentist in Leeds says “We explain every detail of the procedure during the consultation but also during the procedure. It really helps the patient to understand what is coming next, and it removes the fear of the unknown for them”

10. Attend therapy

For some people, their fear of going to the dentist is so severe that they can’t face the thought of attending even the simplest appointment.

If this applies to you, it may be time you sought some professional help to overcome it. Book a few counselling sessions with someone or a charity like No Panic who can offer actionable techniques on how you can overcome your fears enough to book a check-up appointment.

Dr Prav Solanki has a keen interest in dental phobia and helping provide solutions for patients to overcome their fear of the dentist and connecting dentists all over the world with nervous patients so that they can start living their best life again.

How can No Panic help?
No Panic specialises in self-help recovery and our services include:
Providing people with the skills they need to manage their condition and work towards recovery.
Our aim is to give you all of the necessary advice, tools and support that you will need to recover and carry out this journey. No Panic Recovery Programs

Become a member of No Panic and join one of our Recovery Groups or One to One Mentoring services with a trained leader and work on Anxiety Management and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to overcome your phobia.

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