OP columnist Dra Nina King talks dentist phobia
“I HATE coming to see you but don’t take it personally ….” Every dentist has heard these words and there are very few professions where complete strangers address you like this on a regular basis…. But dental phobia is a common occurrence.
The source of many people’s extreme anxiety may be rooted in previous bad experiences, e.g. as a child, or for others (who admit to never actually having had a negative dental experience) it is simply the vulnerability they feel when the chair is tipped back.
Irrespective of origin, dental phobia has proven to be a formidable barrier preventing many from seeking necessary dental treatment. The UK Adult Dental Health Survey 2009 estimated that up to 12% of adults have extreme dental anxiety.
The consequences of this are far reaching; affecting health, with obvious problems arising from pain/swelling to social impacts like trying to find a dentist in a foreign country when you are supposed to be on holiday…
As a dentist, my team and I pride ourselves on re-assuring our nervous patients and treating them successfully, simply by showing them some TLC.
Listening to people, avoiding triggers such as certain sounds/smells and simple distraction techniques are enormously successful in helping patients cope and end that vicious cycle of waiting until things get so bad that when they do come in, it’s often complicated and stressful.
However, some phobic patients require a little more help. They still want to be “put to sleep” for dentistry as they feel they can’t face it otherwise. General anesthesia (being unconscious) performed outside of a hospital setting is no longer legally possible… however conscious sedation is a far safer and extremely effective alternative.
You are awake but very pleasantly relaxed and feeling like you have had quite a few gin and tonics, thanks to the medication we administer!
The side effects are minimal; one of which is complete memory loss during treatment with patients often ‘waking up’ afterwards asking ‘when will we start?’!
Nervous patients should start by trying to find a dentist they trust and work on feeling comfortable with them.
Conscious sedation may however be the solution to finally break through that fear barrier.
Contact the Oasis Dental Clinic on 952837442