You aren’t alone – thousands of people across the UK struggle to make even the simplest trips to the dentist, it’s been years and years since they’ve managed to get themselves in for a check-up or a deep clean. But lots of people leave it too late and by the time they get to the dentist Soho they are already suffering with toothache, gum disease or decay. This is not meant to alarm you, but lots of people have early stages of these things that go unnoticed before it’s too late and that’s why it’s so important you take the plunge and get yourself to the dentist as soon as you can.

Fear or phobia

When it comes to getting to the dentist, first you need to establish how serious your feelings about them are. Fear and a phobia are two very different things yet the two are used interchangeably. A fear is a strong dislike that can cause avoidance, but a phobia is a far, far stronger fear and is considered to be a type of anxiety. So when it comes to the dentist, is it just that you avoid appointments until the very last minute and hate the sounds of the instruments but can face it, or is it that even the thought of the dentist can cause you to have a panic attack? Try to understand what it is that you fear specifically about visiting a dentist, or a doctor. You can use online resources like thriveworks to learn more about iatrophobia (fear of doctors) and how to overcome it.

Treatment options

If you are suffering mild symptoms you could try and contact your dentist who will always be happy to help you work through any concerns you have. Making sure you are acquainted with your dentist and the space before an appointment can help alleviate any stress. Many practices recommend booking early morning appointments and taking a friend or family member with you to the appointment. Practical help can be listening to music, covering your eyes or deciding on a hand signal between you and the dentist to stop what they are doing.

If you have a true phobia the above options will probably not be enough to make any changes for you. You may need to look to other options such as exposure therapy – this is a type of psychotherapy that means introducing you to the thing causing you anxiety slowly. You could use medication – these medications won’t directly treat the phobia, however, they can help to calm types of anxiety and remove some of the symptoms. Both of these are options that should be delivered through a doctor or psychotherapist and you need to contact them if it’s something you wish to try.

Finding the right dentist

Finally everything touched on above is well and good, but it’s very important that you find a dentist who makes you feel safe and comfortable, ask for recommendations, use online reviews and visit the practices. You should always feel comfortable in talking about your fears to your dentist and it’s their job to put you at ease. At the end of the day oral health is important, you don’t get a third set of teeth and you need to take care of the ones you have, don’t wait for an emergency to begin the process of facing your anxiety; start today.

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