Dental anxieties are not uncommon and this is unfortunate, but it is important that these are addressed. Almost 20% of patients deliberately skip dental appointments not because of apathy or being busy, (although they are often the excuses given) but because they are deeply concerned about attending their appointment, about where the appointment may end up and about how they may be perceived by the dentist. Here, some of these ideas are addressed.
Am I weird because I don’t like the dentist?
No; concerns about dental procedures are very common. Although it is a minority of people who genuinely consider themselves ‘phobic’ of their dentists, having negative associations is extremely common. For many people, there have been family tales from parents who had negative experiences with the dentist Wimbledon. This was not uncommon with older style dentistry of the 1970s and before, when patient experience and comfort was not prioritised.
There is also a sense of vulnerability that comes with being laid back in a chair under a bright light in such close proximity to another human; young children often experienced this with hairdressers. The sensation of being exposed whilst also having your personal space occupied by somebody whom you are very unfamiliar with is unsettling and you should not feel that you are strange for finding it unpleasant.
Can I be ‘put out’ at the dentist?
Being put out or fully anaesthetised is not an option in most local dental clinics. To fully anaesthetise a patient requires a well-equipped operating theatre and an anaesthetist to be in attendance. This would significantly increase the cost of any dental procedure and is an unnecessary risk.
In order to help patients who are suffering from dental aversions, IV sedation is becoming more available. During IV sedation, drugs with a similar effect to barbiturates are used but they have a wider therapeutic index, therefore reducing the chances of harm through overdose.
They are very fast acting and although you remain conscious throughout, you become far less aware of your surroundings. You are also extremely unlikely to remember much of your time under IV sedation; that said you’ll still be able to communicate with the clinical staff and dental staff will still be able to to provide you with instructions and stop the procedure if there seems to be anything wrong.
This provides the advantages of full sedation and the advantages of local numbing agents.
I’m concerned about what my dentist will think of me
The role of a dentist is as an advisor; they are not there to pass judgement on your teeth or how you keep them, only to advise you on the best course of action to maintain your oral health. You are hiring a dentist to that end and to provide you with insight on what treatments may be necessary. You should avoid putting your dentist on any kind of pedestal or seeing them as an authority as they are not. Viewing them as such can be detrimental and aggravating to any kind of aversion or anxiety you could be having.