We see a lot of nervous or anxious patients here at Whole Tooth Dental Practice in Leighton Buzzard. The term ‘dental phobia’ is often used to describe such anxieties. In most cases the patient feels a very real and genuine fear relating to dental treatment, and for some just the thought of treatment, or even just a visit to a dental practice, may cause anxiety.
In most cases, the fear and anxiety stems from a previous experience of dental treatment which has left a lasting impression that affects the patient’s associations with all dental treatment. The unpleasant experience may be limited to just a single episode and it may have occurred many years ago, perhaps in early childhood, but it leaves a memory in the subconscious mind that is difficult to rationalise no matter how hard the patient tries.
Anxiety about dental treatment can take many different forms:
Fear of dentists
Many people see dentists as authoritarian figures, who check to see how well they’ve looked after their teeth, and who might criticise them.
The dentists here at Whole Tooth Dental Practice are very sympathetic and approachable people. We believe that dental care is a team effort, involving dentist and patient, and we’ll always be friendly, open, and honest with you.
Fear of pain
The avoidance of pain is a natural instinct. Therefore, some patients who have experienced pain during a visit to the dentist, no matter how long ago it may have happened, can find it very difficult to go back. Understandably, they’re anxious that they may feel pain during future treatments.
If there is any chance that pain may occur we will use a local anaesthetic in order to make the dental procedure painless. And if you feel discomfort at any point we encourage you to raise your hand to alert us.
Fear of needles
Fear of needles is a common phobia. It can be very difficult to overcome, especially during dental treatment, which often involves the use of needles for local anaesthetics.
To help you overcome this we use topical numbing gels and very gentle injection techniques. Often, all you will feel is a slight pinch.
Fear of the unknown
We find that a lot of nervous patients are apprehensive about what to expect during treatment. They wonder what sensations they may experience and whether or not they may feel pain.
To help limit this we involve our patients in their treatment to the fullest extent possible. We explain in advance what sensations they may experience so that there are no unpleasant surprises.
Fear of choking
Fear of choking is another common phobia which can make everyday life difficult. Dentistry is an area where this can become particularly acute, and it can result in the onset of the gagging reflex during treatment.
We try to overcome this by the use of high volume suction, which catches all debris, and we always protect the airway when using small instruments.
Fear of the dental drill
For many people the drill is an iconic symbol of dentistry; it is the embodiment of everything they fear about going to the dentist. The distinctive sound is often enough to make a phobic patient anxious.
To help overcome this we encourage you to bring earphones with you so that you can listen to music during your treatment. It’s also worth noting that today’s drills are much quieter than they used to be.
Fear of embarrassment
Many dental phobic patients will go to great lengths to avoid a visit to the dentist. This in itself can create problems, as the worse their teeth and oral health becomes the more nervous they become about seeing their dentist.
We find that the first return visit is the hardest to make. Therefore, we encourage nervous patients to come in for a 10 minute chat with one of our dentists. We’ll have a friendly discussion with you in a consultation room away from the actual surgery. Having met the dentist, and visited the building, coming in for an examination is made much easier.
Fear of the diagnosis and cost
Finally, we have the fear of diagnosis; the worry that a simple check-up will turn into a long and expensive course of treatment that will run out of the patient’s control. For phobic patients, the ‘best solution’ is usually to avoid the check-up in the first place.
With dental health problems it is often easier, and cheaper, to treat them early, before the problems get worse. We’re transparent and open regarding our pricing, and in most cases there will be a number of options available when considering treatment. We’ll give you a choice of treatments, and help you to decide which is the most suitable for you, based on your budget and timeframe. And besides, we find that by giving lots of tips and advice regarding preventative care, you’ll need fewer treatments, and hence reduce your long-term costs.
Most of our nervous patients find that they progress, as their trust and confidence grows, and that they become less anxious over time.
For those of you who are still very phobic we offer treatment with sedation (Dental Sedation) as a solution. We have a visiting anaesthetist who’ll make you comfortable while your dentist carries out the required treatment.
Our Leighton Buzzard practice is bright and airy, with lots of natural light and an open, spacious feel (especially when compared to some older practices, which can sometimes feel dark and claustrophobic). And we cater for patients from a wide surrounding area, with many coming from Milton Keynes and local villages.
If you’re a nervous patient, or if you know of someone who is, why not take us up on our offer of a cup of coffee and free 10 minute chat with one of our dentists? – We’ll always do our best to put you at ease.