Keep Calm and Get Dental Anxiety Under Control
In the UK a third of the adult population are scared of going to the dentist. It is the number one fear in the nation ranking higher than terrorism, heights and spiders. It is a very recognised and problematic phobia for many people giving high levels of anxiety to those that suffer from it.
Classic Dentist Portrayals Don't Help The Matter.
Although the dentist often appears to be a classic 'comedy horror character' in popular shows ranging from the Simpsons to the Rugrats, I believe it is not to be trivialised! As twelve percent of those who describe themselves as dental phobic (or odontophobia as experts like to describe it) are extremely affected. It is a troubling phobia and is not unlike other debilitating mental illness. Dental Phobia is a cycle. Firstly, one fears the dentist. Secondly, the teeth begin to get worse; this begins a mixture of real dentistry needs, combined with a debilitating phobia. Thirdly it then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The features that come up in dental phobia are:
The Thought of Pain is a Big Feature
The pain is a common feature of the phobia, as dentistry often involves sharp objects going around the mouth.
Numbness and asphyxiation due to the numbing cocaine derivatives such as benzocaine and alphacaine cause the mouth to go numb. This can be distressing to some who find the sensation uncomfortable. Furthermore, some also find the lessening of feeling to the breath panicking, due to not being sure if they are breathing or not. Adding the inevitable insertion of hands and objects to the mouth causes the experience to be all the more unbearable.
What Can You Do?
What can you do? One very important thing is finding a dentist that works for you. In most cases of dental phobia, the fear is caused by past traumatic dental experiences. Various forms of talking therapy such as CBT and ERP can be good for phobias such as this.
If the problem is the pain and discomfort, one can attend certain sedition clinics that use equipment akin to gas and air, as well as the use of sedatives. In the most extreme cases, IV medicine is used.
Things You Can Do Yourself
There are a multitude of great ways you can alleviate your fears (or at least calm them down to a level) so that you can get the treatment you need. Such as:
Take a supportive friend with you - they will help keep you calm and level headed. They have your best interests at heart.
Play some music - it has been widely shown that music therapy can keep your anxiety levels down. Even if they don't have a specific music therapy at your chosen practice, requesting that they play some background music for you can help you to relax. It will give your mind something else to focus on during your treatment.
Eat well - make sure you stay away from anything that can increase heart rate, such as caffeine drinks and sugary foods. Eat high level protein foods and pulses that are proven to make you calmer.
So there you have it! Some excellent advice to hopefully keep your anxiety under control and make sure that you can get to your chosen dentist, have the dental work you need and be treated well.