A smile can be your best asset so you want to be sure that it looks its best. However, a new survey has revealed that the British public has an overwhelming fear of the dentist with 84% of men and 71% of women admitting they feel anxious in the run up to their biannual dental check-ups, blaming the fear of the unknown and their childhood memories of the dentist.
The survey, conducted by award-winning dental and orthodontic practice elleven, highlights that people find the dentist environment to be very unfriendly, clinical and intimidating. From the survey, 62% of participants associate the dentist with negative dental experiences during their childhood, with 83% of these people blaming these memories for their current fear of the dentist.
Most shockingly, the survey of 1,000 participants reveals that this often results in people avoiding check-ups altogether, sometimes for several years at a time. An overwhelming 58% of people admitted that they haven’t visited their dentist in over two years and 21% of people aren’t registered to a dental practice at all, ultimately increasing the chances of developing serious dental problems.
“It’s astonishing to see how many people are scared of visiting the dentist,” says Sameer Patel, Clinical Director at elleven dental. “Perceptions of the dentist’s surgery have moved on drastically in recent years and it is no longer a scary place to be; several advances in modern dentistry have reduced the pain, noise and smells which many remember from their childhood. A good dentist will always do their best to create a warm and welcoming environment that their patients feel safe in, reassuring patients throughout their dental experience…”
Sameer’s top tips to ease your fear of the dentist:
- Do your research
When looking to join a new dentist, take your time in finding the right one for you. Visit several different practices, speak to the staff and you will know which one makes you feel most at ease.
- Find a friend
Your dentist is not just someone that looks after your teeth but they should also be your friend. Make sure that you feel comfortable around them and having an informal chat about where you are jetting off on your holiday will always make you feel more relaxed!
When on the hunt for a new dentist, always ask friends, family or even work colleagues about a dentist they visit and can recommend. Word of mouth is a great way to find a reliable and experienced dentist.
- It’s all about timings
If you are booking a dentist appointment, always chose one that is early in the morning as this will mean you have less time to dwell on it and think about it.
- Take a buddy
Take a friend with you to your appointment. The dentist won’t mind if they accompany you throughout the check-up or treatment and knowing that they are there to support you will help make you feel more relaxed.
Agree a sign with the dentist to signal that you need a break and want them to stop when you are having your treatment. It can be as simple as pointing your finger and this will help you feel more in control.
Don’t like the sound of the dentists? Take a personal stereo with you to listen to music during your visit- it will help you to relax.
When you visit the dentist, be sure to tell them that you are anxious about your appointment. A good practice will do everything they can to make you feel at ease and relaxed.
When in the dentist’s chair, try to relax by closing your eyes and imagining yourself in a relaxing environment. This could be at home on the sofa or at your favourite holiday location. This will help remove you from the environment of the dentist, ultimately removing the negative feelings you are experiencing, making you feel more at ease.
- Take a Break
When at the dentist, discuss how long the treatment will take and ask if it would be possible to have a break half way through. This will break up the time of the treatment, making it more manageable for you.
- Build Your Confidence
If you don’t feel confident enough to have a full dental treatment, visit your dentist for a general check-up to start with. This will be short and straight forward and will make you feel more at ease about visiting the dentist again. For your next visit, book a hygienist treatment which is still a straight forward treatment and this will build your confidence.