Anxiety is something that everyone feels at times but for the most part people manage to work through it. Dental anxiety on the other hand is something that is not so easily overcome. It can often prevent people from seeking out even the most basic dental care, until they have a problem – usually with excruciating pain – when they feel forced into attending the dental surgery as an emergency.
It’s therefore worth thinking about the two main causes and, moreover, what you, the patient, and ourselves as dental practitioners can do to make your dental journey stress and pain free!
Essentially, dental anxiety is caused by either a fear of the unknown and the trepidation of what may come or a fear that a past experience that caused some form of pain will be repeated.
Despite that, most people understand the health importance of good oral hygiene and regular attendance at the dentist. But, what most people perhaps don’t realise is that while the main focus of the dentist or the hygienist is obviously on your teeth and looking for tooth decay and gum disease, they’re also looking for signs of oral cancer and perhaps any lesions on you head/face/neck area.
Sadly there is a whole generation that has been traumatised by the infamous school dentist and who still carry the memory of this. This comes from an ‘old school authority’ approach of : “sit down, open your mouth and get your treatment done and, above all, don’t complain.” Patients were expected to just accept what treatment they were to be given with little explanation and certainly precious little empathy.
Modern dentistry allows for a lot more options for treating patient who suffer from dental anxiety including hypnotherapy, medication, sedation and in extreme cases general anaesthetic.
At First Alba Healthcare our aim is to listen and help our patients as much as we can. We would begin by just having a chat about what treatment is required and how we move forward in treating you.
As the patient you are our main focus and we wish you to be comfortable by ensuring good communication. Let’s start with something small and simple such as an examination and or a small simple filling. It’s important to build up trust between you and the dentist so that you are comfortable and happy to come back to see us for further treatment.
There are a number of ways you can reduce your anxiety. For example, make an appointment for first thing in the morning so you don’t have to worry about it all day and it’s also less likely you’d have as long to sit in the waiting room.
And, if you find that when you arrive and it becomes too overwhelming just tell us; we won’t force you to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.
You could also bring headphones to listen to music from your smartphone if you would like zone out whilst having your treatment done! And, if you need to bring someone who makes you feel calm and supported, that’s absolutely OK as well.
In short, we’re here to help and support you so that you can get the dental advice and treatment that is necessary for you wellbeing. We really don’t want you to avoid coming! We’ll do our best to help you to overcome any anxiety that you have.
First Alba Kinross patient, Lesley Quigg, says that she has considerable anxiety about attending the practice each time she needs dental treatment. “Although I have been a patient for several years I’m still very nervous, especially last time when I knew that I would have to have an injection to enable some treatment on two of my front teeth.
“Fortunately I was familiar with both the nurse and the dentist – which was a big help – but the nurse even held my hand whilst I was injected. I hope I didn’t squeeze too hard! Another big help was that both the nurse and the dentist spoke about everyday things so it took my mind off what was going to happen.
“Another thing I thought about was that once the injection was done I wouldn’t feel anything and that little tiny bit of pain was worth it to have a nice smile – and that is important to me as I work with children.”
Article written by Laura Maconachie.
Laura is a senior dental nurse based mainly at First Alba Healthcare’s Kinross practice and also at their practice in Newburgh.
She has worked for First Alba for six years, but has been a dental nurse for 23 years having gained her National Examining Board for Dental Nurses certification in 2001.
Outside of work Laura enjoys baking, reading and has a keen interest in karate having gained her black belt at the age of 12. She enjoys socialising with her friends and is also very family oriented and loves having her nieces and nephew to stay for play dates and sleepovers.