Not everyone enjoys a trip to the dentist,, in fact to be honest most people don’t. However if that slight anxiety begins to be overwhelming and control you then it can begin to impact your dental health. Dr Phil McDermott writes these blog posts to help you if you feel anxious, scared, nervous or afraid of the dentist.
Learning and unlearning
We often find that overcoming dental fear is about realising that you have a choice.
Think about it now, you weren’t born with a fear of the dentist, babies are a blank canvass and have no such irrational fears. However, as we get older we have certain experiences that shape our views, so think about it now… what experience led you to believe you were afraid of the dentist?
When you come to see us we will ask you what was the trigger that taught you this behaviour, this will then help us to help you overcome this irrational fear.
The problem is that we have these experiences once and they then shape our thought patterns by teaching us new behaviours i.e. to fear the dentist, this is a key point to understand, your fear is a learnt behaviour – and if it can be learnt, a new way of thinking can also be learnt.
It’s good to talk
We’d like you to write down one thing that would be the worst thing we could do as dentist. Why do we want to know this? Well, the reason is simple, we want to know what NOT to do.
As a dentist this is often a simple thing for us to avoid, and therefore represents a really simple and easy way to start to help you overcome your fear.
For example, if even walking in through the door is a problem we can overcome this by talking on the phone, then chatting to you in our patient lounge (no dental ‘stuff’ in sight). Once we’ve got this far we can discuss simple next steps in helping you, all working to help you overcome your fear at your own pace.
The real key in overcoming your fear is to talk to us and open up communication, most people’s fears are based on outdated ways of doing things that are easily avoided, so armed with your ‘worst thing we could do as a dentist’ list we can make real progress in working out the best strategy for you.
Controlling that nagging voice we all have!
Do you hear voices in our head?
If you are thinking ‘No I don’t have voices’ then THAT’S the voice we are talking about, the one that just said ‘I don’t have any voices’!
We all have voices in our head that talk to us telling us things… ‘you’re no good’ ‘ you’re fat’ ‘ you’re scared of the dentist’… now you know the voice we mean, don’t you.
A key strategy on overcoming fear and relaxing at the dentist is to learn to control these voices, so try this exercise now… it may seem odd, but try it as it will work brilliantly for you.
1) Say in your mind something mean about yourself.
Not anything too mean, but something that is important to you and has meaning for you, something like “You are a failure’, “You’ll never be any good at anything’… you know, the kind of thing we were told as kids and we keep with us as adults.
2) Now take that voice and remove it from your head and imagine it on your shoulder, allow it to keep saying those mean things.
Notice how it seems to have less power now that it is out of your head and on your shoulder
3) Now hold you arm out straight in front of you, put your thumb up vertically, and imagine your voice coming from the tip of your thumb.
As you do this now, notice that even though the words are the same, the power of the voice is weaker.
4) Now give that voice on the tip of your thumb a comedic voice, something really funny and stupid. Allow it to say the same mean things, but allow that voice to say them from the tip of your thumb and in a comedic and funny voice.
Notice this time how the power is completely gone from that voice. Notice how YOU have controlled that voice to take away it’s power.
Now you have realised that YOU are in control of the nagging voice in your head, each time it mentions fear, then place it at the end of your thumb, give it a comedic funny voice and the power of that negative thought has gone.
Top Tips to Beat Your Dental Anxiety
- Book an appointment in the morning, this will ensure you can relax for the rest of the day as your appointment will be over.
- For regular appointments, make sure you have a good breakfast. This will set you up for the day and ensure your energy levels remain high.
- Lay off the alcohol! Not only does it dehydrate you but it can also make you worry.
- Bring a friend. Decide before hand on what you are going to talk about, make it subjects that relax you and keep you calm. Perhaps discuss a recent holiday, or where you are going next time.
- Practice your ‘inner voice’ control techniques. Put the negative voice at the tip of your thumb and give it a comedic funny sound.
- Bring your list of “The worst thing we can do” we can then discuss this with you to ensure it really doesn’t happen
- Talk openly to us. We will NOT judge you or tell you off for not coming to see us… honestly
- Agree a stop signal with us, this will ensure that (like your inner voice technique) YOU are in control
Relaxing with sedation dentistry
If you feel anxious or stressed about a certain procedure or appointment, you’re not alone. Many patients experience dental anxiety, and can sometimes let this anxiety keep them from getting the treatment they need. Dr. McDermott and his team want every patient to feel at home here in our office. We will do everything in our power to make you as comfortable as possible during your visit. At Redhill Dental Clinic, we are proud to offer sedation dentistry options to all of our patients before any procedure.
WHAT IS SEDATION DENTISTRY?
Sedation dentistry refers to an optional treatment that patients can have administered before any procedure. This will put you in a relaxed state throughout your entire procedure and make your dental appointment even easier and more stress-free. Patients who choose sedation dentistry are awake enough to answer questions, but experience reduced sensitivity and feel completely at ease. At our practice, we offer oral conscious sedation treatment options.
Experience True Comfort With Oral Conscious Sedation
Oral conscious sedation is a type of sedation dentistry that utilizes an easy-to-swallow pill or tablet. When you choose oral conscious sedation, your dentist will give you a pill to take about thirty minutes prior to visiting our office. Once the effects of the sedation have settled, your dentist will begin your procedure. Patients who choose oral conscious sedation will be awake enough to answer questions, but will need to arrange for a ride to and from the dentist office.
If you have any questions about sedation dentistry, you can call us at our office. We would be happy to answer any questions or to arrange a consultation with your dentist.
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