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Coping with a dentist phobia

Coping with a dentist phobia

There's no doubt that a straight, white smile is a brilliant beauty accessory, but what if you're too scared to head to the dentist? It might seem silly but many people put their oral health to the back of their mind until they really have to make an appointment - we're talking pounding pain which won't go away or the loss of a filling.

Regular checkups are the key, with Dr. Rhona Eskander of the Chelsea Dental Clinic suggesting some tips for anyone who is feeling nervous.

"What I do is try to take loads of photographs, explain to them with x-rays and so forth," she told Cover Media. "Recommendation is really important so word of mouth, and also when they go to an actual dentist to say, ‘Is there something you can show me to show me what’s going on?’ Are there photographs? Are there x-rays? That is fair enough because you’re the patient and you have a right to know that. We’re not living in this medieval age where it’s just sit and open, it’s kind of a process of this is what’s going on, here you go, and the patient should be able to question the dentist."

If you struggle when in the chair and start flinching at the sound of the drill, the best thing you can do is be honest with your dentist. A good one will always talk you through the work which is required, often using a mirror to show you any weak spots which is particularly good if you aren't feeling pain. After all, no one wants to be left wondering if they actually needed that filling or not.

Don't feel like you have to sign up to a treatment plan there and then either, it's perfectly fine to ask for some time to consider your options. If you do go ahead and feel anxious about what's to come, ask your dentist what the practice has in place for nervous patients.

"Hypnotherapy is actually available, a lot of dentists do do it," Dr. Eskander explained. "There’s things like they will provide these CDs that have hypnosis and so forth. I find that talking patients through things is really important... I don’t lie, I don’t sugar coat. I say, ‘There’s gonna be pain, but I want you to wiggle your toes.’ That’s called a distraction technique. By wiggling your toes you’re focusing on something else. Then I try to find out what the patient’s actually scared of. Are you scared of the injection or the noises of the drill, the pain, the fear of the unknown? What is it? And then I try to address it. Some people are really scared of the noise of the drill, so I say bring in your iPod or we’ll put on whatever radio station you want and I put it on really loudly to try to distract them. Also talking in a way the patient understands – I think jargon is terrible. You need root canal and then you need a crown – does that mean anything to you? Try to put it (another way): ‘Your nerve is dying. You nerve is the life and soul of your tooth and it’s sick, it’s full of toxins and bacteria, we need to get rid of them.’"

Cover Media