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How to overcome your fear of the dentist

11 June 2014
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A new survey has revealed that a staggering amount of British people fear the dentist, with 84 per cent of men and 71 per cent of women admitting to feeling anxious in the run-up to their biannual check-ups. The survey, conducted by London-based dental practice Elleven, revealed the top five reasons why people fear visiting the dentist

  1. Childhood memories – 31 per cent
  2. Injections – 28 per cent
  3. Machinery noises – 13 per cent
  4. Clinical smell – 13 per cent
  5. Intimidating surroundings – 9 per cent

This anxiety can lead to patients avoiding check-ups altogether. A shocking 58 per cent of people surveyed admitted that they haven't visited their dentist in over two years and a further 21 per cent of people aren't registered to any dental practice. To help combat your fear of the dentist, Sameer Patel, Clinic Director at Elleven Dental, has provided us with these top tips:

  1. Do your research — when looking to join a new dentist, take your time in finding the right one for you. Visit several different practices, speak to the staff and you will know which one makes you feel most at ease. 
  2. Find a friend — your dentist is not just someone who looks after your teeth but they should also be your friend. Make sure that you feel comfortable around them and having an informal chat about where you are jetting off on your holiday will always make you feel more relaxed! 
  3. Recommendation — when on the hunt for a new dentist, always ask friends, family or even work colleagues about a dentist they visit and can recommend. Word of mouth is a great way to find a reliable and experienced dentist. 
  4. It’s all about timings — if you are booking a dentist appointment, always choose one that is early in the morning as this will mean you have less time to dwell on it and think about it. 
  5. Take a buddy — take a friend with you to your appointment. The dentist won’t mind if they accompany you throughout the check-up or treatment and knowing that they are there to support you will help make you feel more relaxed. 
  6. Signs — agree on a sign with the dentist to signal that you need a break and want them to stop when you are having your treatment. It can be as simple as pointing your finger and this will help you feel more in control. 
  7. Music — don’t like the sound of the dentists? Take a personal stereo with you to listen to music during your visit- it will help you to relax. 
  8. Communicate — when you visit the dentist, be sure to tell them that you are anxious about your appointment. A good practice will do everything they can to make you feel at ease and relaxed. 
  9. Visualise — when in the dentist’s chair, try to relax by closing your eyes and imagining yourself in a relaxing environment. This could be at home on the sofa or at your favourite holiday location. This will help remove you from the environment of the dentist, ultimately removing the negative feelings you are experiencing, and making you feel more at ease. 
  10. Take a Break — when at the dentist, discuss how long the treatment will take and ask if it would be possible to have a break halfway through. This will break up the time of the treatment, making it more manageable for you. 
  11. Build Your Confidence — if you don’t feel confident enough to have a full dental treatment, visit your dentist for a general check-up to start with. This will be short and straightforward and will make you feel more at ease about visiting the dentist again. For your next visit, book a hygienist treatment which is still a straightforward treatment and this will build your confidence.