When you think about visiting the dentist, what is your immediate reaction? Do you feel like it’s a necessary chore? Or do you have a level of anxiety? If it’s the latter, you are not alone. There are many patients who feel concern over visiting the dentist. Of these, a number experience dental phobia, which can be debilitating and can spill over into other areas of life. At Kings Dental Clinic Hammersmith, dental phobia is something we help patients with regularly.
How can dental phobia affect your life?
People who suffer from dental phobia generally avoid the dentist. This avoidance behaviour can mean that they restrict their life experiences so that they do not do anything that has a chance of affecting their teeth. Some people experience a fear of anything going in or near their mouth due to associations with dental treatment.
Often, someone with dental phobia is eventually forced to go to the dentist due to a problem with their teeth. This happens quite frequently because they don’t have a long-term relationship with a dentist who is monitoring their oral health and stopping any problems getting to an advanced stage. When they eventually have to go, it is a very difficult experience for them that can be accompanied by any number of symptoms including sweating, panic attacks, shortness of breath, high blood pressure and so on.
How can we help?
At Kings Dental Clinic, we encourage you to act now if you have dental phobia. We can support you during a visit to the dentist. It is easier if you can face the issue without additional dental issues getting in the way. We do what we can to adapt the environment at our practice to make you more comfortable. We have an open dialogue with you, so we can understand your needs and give you the information you need to feel in control. You may also be able to take advantage of extra sedation methods for some procedures. Once you start having easier experiences at the dentist, you may find that you are able to get past your fear completely. Visiting the dentist can then become an empowering situation for you.
If you are afraid of the dentist, you are not alone. Studies have shown that about 1 in 4 people dread visiting the dentist and some of them keep postponing their visit until it is too late. Dental phobia doesn’t have a single cause. It might be a fear of pain during treatment, or perhaps the sounds and smells which might bring back memories of a bad dental experience, usually during a patient’s childhood.
At Kings Dental Clinic in Hammersmith, we understand that everyone’s fears are different and we will help you overcome them. Our lead dentist has more than 15 years of experience in treating nervous patients and we offer various sedation options. Our relaxation sedation uses happy air, a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen, to breathe through a small mask over your nose and not needles – a leading cause of dental phobia.
If you have to visit the dentist but suffer from dental phobia, our caring and understanding team will guide you through every step of the treatment. We are here to help you and not judge you.
Common causes of dental phobia
There are many reasons why people are afraid of the dentist, some of which are unique for each individual. Generally, fear of pain is a very common reason to avoid visiting the dentist – that is until the pain becomes an issue. This fear, which is often logical given that some dental treatments used to be painful, usually comes from childhood experiences. However, thanks to recent advances in dentistry, modern treatments are almost pain-free. Some patients, on the other hand, avoid visiting the dentist because they feel helpless and out of control. Finally, quite a few people feel embarrassed about the state of their teeth and, in their minds, that’s a valid reason not to visit the dentist.
Talking to your dentist about your phobias is the first step towards overcoming them. Once they know what your fears are, they will be able to determine the best ways to make you feel less anxious and more comfortable.
If lack of control is one of your main concerns, actively discussing with your dentist about your own treatment can help you overcome the tension.
Many patients are nervous about visiting the dentist. In fact, fear of the dentist is the main reason adults in the UK give for missing regular dental check-ups – above worries about cost or lack of time.
At King’s Dental Clinic our principal dentist has more than 15 years of experience in treating nervous patients. Our Hammersmith and Southwark practices are Dental Phobic registered, and we have a number of options available for nervous and phobic patients. Our caring, compassionate, experienced team is happy to discuss treatment options with you to help you get the treatment you need and the smile you deserve.
There are many causes of fear of the dentist, from bad past experiences to a fear of not being in control, embarrassment about the condition of your teeth if you have not seen a dentist in years to fear of specific triggers including needles or the sound of the drill.
Fear of the dentist can range from mild anxiety to full-blown phobia. Any level of fear can prevent you from seeking treatment, ironically leading to an increased risk of painful dental conditions, complications and the need for more invasive procedures.
We will always take your fears seriously and will do everything we can to put your mind at ease. Our empathic team will take the time to try to establish the cause of your fear, so that we can work with you to overcome it. We will never be judgemental; if you haven’t seen a dentist for many years because of nervousness, all we want to do is to help you get your smile and your oral health back.
Our principal dentist is also fully qualified to perform relaxation sedation, and has carried out more than 6,000 procedures using this type of sedation.
We use happy air – a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen – to inhale through a small mask. This will make you feel very relaxed and, while you are not asleep and will be able to cooperate with your dentist, your nerves will subside and you will be comfortable during treatment. Unlike other types of sedation, relaxation sedation wears off quickly when you stop inhaling the gas, meaning you will be able to drive yourself home a short time after treatment.