Fear of the Dentist

I have been scared of the dentist for a while – what is it like now?

Dental techniques have improved so much over the last few years, that modern dental treatment can now be completely painless. Despite this, most people still feel a little nervous at the thought of going to the dentist.

If you have not been to see a dentist for some time, you will probably find that things have improved a lot since your last visit. The general attitude is likely to be more relaxed, the dental techniques and safety procedures will be much better, and the equipment will be more up to date

Why am I afraid of the dentist?

West House Dental Practice 005Being ‘afraid of the dentist’ may mean different things to different people. It will probably help if you work out just what it is that worries you most.

Some people have specific fears about actual areas of treatment – for example, they are scared that having a filling will hurt. Others hate the whole idea. Some people don’t like the thought of being out of control, and others worry about being treated as though they were on a production line.

Some people find the sounds and smells bring back memories of bad experiences as a child. Others worry about stories they have heard about other people’s bad experiences.

A smaller number of people are genuinely afraid of dental treatment. The good news is that more and more dentists now understand their patients’ fears, and with a combination of kindness and gentleness can do a great deal to make dental treatment an acceptable, normal part of life.

And nearly everyone would feel a lot better about dentistry if they knew for certain that they would always be treated kindly and considerately.

I haven’t been to the dentist in a long time – will I need a lot of treatment?

Years ago it was normal for people to need fillings every time they went to their dentist, but things have changed for the better now. Fluoride toothpastes have made a large impact on tooth decay and you may be surprised at how little treatment you need.

The aim now is for healthy mouths that stay healthy. Teeth are for life and can last a lifetime if they are looked after properly. If you can get your mouth into good shape, with the help of the dentist and dental hygienist, you should need less treatment and there will be less for the dentist to do in the future.

Using a fluoride toothpaste will help to strengthen your teeth and prevent decay. Look for products carrying the British Dental Health Foundation logo on the packet. These products have been clinically and scientifically tested, and a panel of dental experts have decided whether the packaging claims are correct before awarding their accreditation badge.

It is important to keep up your regular visits to the dentist, not only to monitor tooth decay, but also to help prevent gum disease. Once your mouth is healthy, your visits to the practice will often just be easy sessions for checking and cleaning.

What will happen at the first appointment?

Your first appointment should just be for a consultation with a dentist. It as an opportunity for you to ask any questions or put forward any concerns or fears.

If you like what you see and hear, you may want to arrange another appointment for a short treatment session. Allow yourself to take things at your own speed, and don’t be pressured into anything you are not happy about.

What type of treatment should I choose?

Most dentists today offer some form of treatment for nervous patients, whether they work in the National Health Service or privately. The NHS covers most treatments necessary to treat nervous patients. The main advantage of private practice is that more time can be spent with you to help you feel relaxed.