4 September 2018
Is your six monthly dental check-up a matter of routine, something you don’t give a second thought? Or are you one of the many people who come out in a cold sweat at the very thought of going to the dentist? If this is you, you are not alone. Dental phobia is common.
In 2011, a survey by the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care found that half of those going to the dentist felt moderate to extreme anxiety.
You may be so terrified of going to the dentist that you resort to tranquillisers just to get through the door. If so, its impossible for you to imagine the fresh feeling in the mouth that comes from having your teeth cleaned and polished. For those of you with a dental phobia, the mind registers only panic, discomfort and fear. If you do somehow manage to get to the dentist, you end up sitting in the dentist’s chair rigid with fear or restlessly agitated.
Teeth problems can affect all areas of life. Toothache can mean you don’t sleep well and find it difficult to eat. Constant pain often results in time off work, not wanting to go out and can make you difficult to be around.
People with dental phobia don’t tend not to have regular check ups and only visit the dentist when their problems get out of hand. They feel helpless and hopeless when it comes to visiting the dentist. These feelings mean they only seek treatment once they are in pain or their teeth are decaying. Once they are experiencing pain, the treatment can end up being more invasive than if they had been coming for regular check ups and the problem solved earlier.
If this is you, don’t worry. There is help available. Hypnosis has been used to help people with dental phobia since 1837. It is effective in the treatment of anxiety, pain, teeth grinding and gagging.
When I work with people with dental anxiety and dental phobia, I support you to be able to manage your anxiety. I am always careful to work at a pace that suits you. We work together to change your thoughts, feelings and behaviour about going to the dentist.
We use hypnosis for relaxation before and during your treatment. It’s not possible to be relaxed and anxious at the same time. Being relaxed also raises pain thresholds so relaxed patients do not experience pain as much.
Not knowing what is going to happen can make you feel more anxious. Do as much research as you can before your appointment.
Take time to visit the dentist’s surgery before your appointment. Get used to the surroundings and get to know the staff. Talk to the dentist to get all your questions answered. Most dentist’s will be happy to organise for you to visit the surgery and explain what will happen. The team at Andrew House Dental, for instance, have experience of working with anxious patients and are always happy to answer any questions you may have.
You can always bring a friend with you to the appointment, if that will help.
Breathing techniques slow your whole system down and help you to feel calmer. Practice relaxed breathing to help reduce anxious feelings. Deep breathing helps to calm you down and puts the body into relaxation mode.
Take a few deep breaths – breathing in to a count of 7 , and out to a count of 11. With practice, this will help you to feel calmer and more in control. Practice before your appointment so that you can use it when you need it. Take a look at how-to-relax-in-just-five-minutes for ways to help you.
Use your imagination to prepare yourself in advance for situations that cause you stress. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in the situation, going into as much detail as possible. Take a deep breath and relax away all the tension. Now imaging feeling calm and relaxed as you cope with the situation.
Hypnosis allows you to experience helpful thoughts and images as if they are real. Self-hypnosis has proven to be effective in improving relaxation and treating dental phobia and anxiety. Using self-hypnosis can help you to learn to respond to situations and emotions in new and helpful ways. Self hypnosis harnesses the power of your mind and teaches it to work for you in the way you would like.
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