It’s a shame when people are frightened of visiting the dentist as, nine times out of 10, nothing painful happens. But this fear is incredibly common. As a child, I used to enjoy going to the dentist, as I’d get presented with a sticker, sometimes some free toothpaste, and told how marvellously clean and healthy my teeth were. That was enough for me. My dentist was warm and funny. I only had one filling, because of a chipped tooth, and it didn’t hurt.
But for others, this anxiety is often prohibitive, so not only do they avoid going for check-ups, they might not seek out the orthodontic treatment they really need. This fear might be because of a traumatic experience as a child, or maybe because a parent has passed on their fear in the same way that people do with a phobia of spiders or snakes. But there’s plenty of ways to overcome those worries.
1. Ask around
Speak to family or friends for recommendations, and try to find a dentist who is understanding about phobias and anxiety. Some even specialise in treating nervous patients.
2. Get in early
When you make an appointment, try to get seen first thing so that you don’t have time to worry about it during the day.
3. A problem shared
Speak to your dentist or consultant about your fears. It won’t be the first time they’ve dealt with nervous patients and, once you’ve aired your anxiety, you might find that you feel better about it. Also speak to other people who have had the treatment you’re going for, such as braces or Invisalign – they’ll be able to tell you exactly how it was for them.
4. Bring a friend
Taking a friend or family member with you to your appointment can help you relax. They can also speak to the dentist on your behalf if they see you becoming anxious during treatment.
5. Read the reviews
If you think you might need orthodontic treatment, check out the reviews on local orthodontist websites. These should offer reassurance and confidence, and give you a better feeling about the practice and staff.
6. Listen to music
Relaxing with your favourite tunes or podcast can make things easier while you’re in the waiting room or chair. Find something that makes you happy or reminds you of good times.
7. Be mindful
Ever tried mindfulness or visualisation? These are very powerful techniques to help calm anxiety and stress. Another idea is to try breathing exercises to calm yourself – take a look at the NHS website for tips.