Avoiding the dentist because of anxiety is likely to cause long term harm to teeth and gums.
Anxiety is a strange thing, and some believe it is hardwired into our DNA from our times as hunter gatherers.
Whether this is true or not, many of us will have anxieties about one thing or another. Mostly, we recognise that there are no real foundations to our fears, but we seem unable to stop them anyway.
One common anxiety is a fear of flying. Statistics show us that our chances of being in a plane crash are ridiculously small, yet it is still a very common phobia. Giving it a good run for the number one phobia though is dental anxiety.
Why the anxiety?
There are a few reasons why people become anxious about going to the dentist. Generally, if asked, they will tell you it is the pain, or the possibility of pain, that concerns them. Even if this were the case, many patients also experience the same level of anxiety when they are due for a check up, where they know that no treatment will be involved on that particular visit.
Other patients cite the sound of the drill, or the fact that they feel they are going to choke or swallow their tongue during a procedure, or even a check up. Some psychologists believe that one key reason why patients are anxious about their visit is that check ups and procedures all take place very close to all of our major senses; i.e. sound, sight and smell.
We probably don’t need to go too deeply into the consequences of dental anxiety here. Too many anxious patients either cancel their appointments or even simply don’t show up. Avoiding seeing your local dentist for some time though, will almost certainly eventually result in advanced dental problems such as decay, root canal infection or periodontitis which will needed to be treated at the Confidental Clinic.
It is important to recognise that there are different levels of anxiety. For those who are just a bit ‘on edge’ about their visit, our advice is to come anyway. We offer a friendly service and will do all that we can to make you comfortable during check ups and procedures. The consequences of missing appointments are simply not worth it.
Some patients of our Clapham practice have told us that they found help by using relaxation or breathing techniques. There are many good examples of these on the internet and you may find them useful. Yoga or herbal relaxants (the legal kind!) may also be useful.
For those whose anxiety is quite severe, and who are therefore at the greatest risk of missed appointments and the subsequent consequences, help is available. If you prefer, you may wish to discuss this with your GP. Most GPs recognise the importance of good dental care and may give you something to relax you for your appointments. Please remember to advise us of any medication you are on when you arrive though.
The team at the Confidental Clinic in Clapham are also very supportive of nervous patients and we have a range of services in place to help you with this. So you may wish to discuss your anxiety with us before seeing your GP.
However anxious you are, keeping your dental appointment is important. If you haven’t seen a dentist for some time, due to your anxiety, please call us on 020 7801 9060 and explain the situation. Our receptionists will discuss this with you and offer appropriate help to arrange a suitable appointment for you.