01 Apr Brush Your Fears Away: Is Your Fear Of The Dentist Ruining Your Smile?
Dentophobia, or odontophobia, is a fear of the dentist; and it affects a whopping 53 per cent of the UK public! It really is no surprise when we consider the media’s portrayal of dentists: needle-wielding psychopaths with murderous intent!
Why are so many people afraid of the dentist?
We only have to look at Steve Martin’s portrayal of Orin Scrivello in Little Shop of Horrors, that leather-clad sadist relishing the misery of his patients! Or what about Christopher Lee’s portrayal of Willy Wonka’s father in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005), the dentist who steals all the joys of childhood from his son because of his fixation on the perfect smile.
The same is true of the profession’s history. Dentistry in the 50s was all about extracting teeth. Dentistry in the 60s was still very treatment based, without much thought for preventative measures. It was in the 70s that we started to see more revolutionary methods and technological advancements, but even then dentistry was rarely a painless experience. This could be why fear-based conversations around dentistry have continued, with parents telling their children all sorts of horror stories about their own dental nightmares.
We all know that dentistry has progressed and that life isn’t like the movies, but it’s undeniable that we’re taught from a very young age to fear the dentist, when that needn’t be the case at all! A truly great dentist knows that a vital part of any procedure is the care, attention, and reassurance they give to their patients.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could visit a dentist with no gnawing anxiety in your stomach? If you truly cannot overcome your fear of the dentist, anaesthetic is a fantastic – and safe – option to calm your nerves and enable your provider to do what they do best: look after you.
Anaesthetic can help soothe your anxiety when undergoing treatment
The information in this blog series is designed to give you the confidence that you will be able to identify which specialists are going to care for you the best and alleviate your worries.
For some patients, their anxiety around going to the dentist might be so extreme that they are unable to bring themselves to go at all. In these cases, sedation is a really beneficial way of allowing necessary work to be carried out while removing pain and fear from the equation.
For patients who are scared of the pain associated with procedures, local anaesthetic in the mouth works fantastically. Intravenous sedation is when a strong Valium-type drug is injected via the veins. It has the benefits of the patient being put to sleep completely but does not pose the same risks as general anaesthetic. When we’re talking about the “risks” of general anaesthetic, though, it’s important to bear in mind that there is a one in 350,000 chance that a patient won’t wake up. It is extremely rare – so rare, in fact, that I myself would confidently undergo general anaesthetic in a heartbeat should I need to.
When patients are put to sleep via intravenous sedation, it is absolutely crucial that the healthcare provider treat those patients with the same respect they would want their family members to be treated with. That’s our philosophy here at London Dental Specialists, and my team and I take the trust and responsibility that patients place in our hands extremely seriously.
Rewriting the script for dentists
Many patients are not only fearful of the procedure itself, but of their recovery post-surgery. For my team and I, one of the crucial things we’re thinking about throughout a patient’s care is not just pain management during a procedure, but also afterwards when the anaesthetic wears off. Over the years, we’ve developed a pain-killing regime post-surgery that really works.
Some further things you can do post-surgery to alleviate pain and anxiety are:
- Stay hydrated
- Eat regularly, sticking to soft foods initially. The nutrients in your food are essential for recovery!
- Rest! Let your body recover
- Complete your course of antibiotics and take your painkillers as advised
- If your painkillers are not working, contact your provider
- Maintain your oral hygiene
- Avoid cigarettes and alcohol.
Our upcoming blog posts are going to be full of tips and tricks to help you maintain the health of your mouth, so whether you have a fear of the dentist or not, you can focus on prevention over treatment. It’s still important to visit your dentist regularly, though, and if your provider is unable to reassure your worries and calm your anxiety, you’re likely visiting the wrong practice.
At London Dental Specialists, we exercise diligence in everything we do and treat all our patients with empathy, understanding, and respect, so you can rest assured that you’re in safe hands. Please complete the form below and one of the team will contact you by the next working day. If you’d like to book a free virtual consultation, get in touch today!