Dental anxiety

two dentists

Dental aversions are not uncommon; what is often  brushed off as a minor issue or perhaps humorous personality quirk can actually be extremely damaging. But unfortunately, patients with dental aversions often end up delaying their treatment and failing to attend regular check-ups results in conditions that could have been easily solved or resolved. Thus, these often become dental emergencies, which are often uncomfortable, before the patient attends a dentist in Nottingham.

An NHS study into adult dental health found at least 40% of their sample was extremely anxious about attending the dentist and 15% considered themselves too anxious to enter a waiting room; this is not an isolated problem. And it literally results in thousands of people ending up with dental emergencies and critical conditions that could have been avoided.

A big part of what makes dental aversions common (and unresolved)cis a mixture of them being normalised and considered acceptable whilst simultaneously minimised and not seen as serious.

Learnt behaviour

The majority of those with dental aversions had at least one parent who also experienced anxiety related to the dentist. In previous generations, dentistry was often unpleasant due to more invasive procedures and an inconsistent use of anesthesia.  Dentistry was also often prohibitively expensive for a large percentage of the population and a sort of sour grapes phobia of the dentist was used as an excuse for those who simply could not afford to attend a dentist.

Both of these chains feed phobias; modern dentistry, both in the scope of fundamental dentistry which is offered free as part of the NHS or the competency and emphasis of modern dentists on non-invasive procedures or prevention over treatment is painless and more affordable than ever before.

dental patient

Vulnerable position

First a significant number of the people who were questioned as part of the NHS study found that  the position of the dental chair (with the mouth open while lying back) to be a big part of their fear. It certainly is a position which leaves you vulnerable and with a low level of trust is a situation you would not want to put yourself in it. If you explain this to a dentist, there may be the opportunity to perform part or all of your check up whilst remaining in an upright position or simply a less invasive one.  A dental examination can be performed in an X-ray first manner, by taking an X-ray and using it to guide further dental examination. For many patients, receiving an X-ray was not part of their dental aversion due to not having to take a position of vulnerability, so it can instantly make even the most nervous patients feel comfortable.

Being judged

Fear of judgement is often paramount in a patient’s dental aversion. It is common for a nervous patient to become concerned about the dentist judging them on the state of their teeth. This is partially due to an idea of dentists being seen as an authority figure. It is best to try to reframe your dentist as a hired assistant or guide to help you on the way to good dental care. At the end of the day you are paying for their service and their role is to help you.