Yes, you read that correctly. Dental Anxiety is a familiar struggle for most people. Recent studies concluded that 53% of the UK feel scared when visiting the dentist (Source: Dental Phobia UK). But, when the anxiety is so severe that it prevents you from visiting the dentist altogether, that’s what we call Dental Phobia (Dentophobia).
We understand that a fear of the dentist can differ in severity for each patient we encounter. It’s possible you might experience mild anxiety a few minutes before the appointment. Or you might develop more extreme symptoms, like sleepless nights building up to the day. You might feel your heart race when you enter the practice building; your hands might tremble, or you might feel suffocated.
Our biggest concern as dentists is when you feel so distressed that you stop visiting us altogether. That’s why our highly-trained team can anticipate and handle Dental Phobia at The Bristol Dental Practice.
There’s no need to suffer alone. We can manage your phobia by offering a nurturing environment staffed with a team of calm dentists. We also provide conscious sedation therapy to ensure you stay relaxed during your time with us.
Why You Should Not Fear The Dentist
Dental Phobia is more severe than Dental Anxiety as it often stops people from visiting the dentist. This is a common phenomenon, as 17% of the population suffers to the extent they miss appointments. (Source: Dental Phobia UK). But these years of avoidance and missed appointments only exasperate dental issues that will need more work to fix in the future.
Here’s why you shouldn’t fear the dentist: dentists don’t only care for your oral health, but we also protect you from nasty infections. Not to mention, a dentist can also diagnose fatal conditions like heart disease and cancer, so it is important that you see us.
Dental Phobia sufferers tend to ignore vital signals like toothaches or red, swollen gums, but these are early signs that something is wrong. If left untreated, you may develop tooth decay, gum disease, infection or tooth loss. All these conditions will result in irreversible damage to your mouth if you don’t seek treatment.
Some sufferers may even resort to ‘DIY’ self-treatment rather than booking an appointment. This is a big no-no, as it will lead to infections and cause you even more distress. Trust us; we will be able to fix your concern in a safer and less painful manner.
Why Do You Have A Fear Of The Dentist?
Understanding your phobia is the first step to solving it. If you know your triggers, you’ll be able to communicate them with your dentist. We will do everything we can to avoid triggering these fears and find a better, more comfortable solution for you.
In our experience, most dental phobias stem from a bad encounter with a previous dentist. This encounter may have taken place when you were a child. Or your parents/grandparents may have instilled their own fears into you. In these cases, visiting our Treatment Coordinator, Rebecca Hawkings, is a good idea. Trained in caring for nervous patients, she can discuss all our treatment options. Dentistry has also come a long way since before the 2000s. Rebecca can explain to you how far modern dentistry has progressed, allowing us to offer pain-free methods to our patients.
Remember: If one bad experience can hold enough power to make you fear the dentist, one positive experience under IV sedation can be just as transformative in rebuilding your trust in us.
Whether you fear needles, gagging, anaesthesia, drills or pain, the best way to find a solution is by first diagnosing it so we can work with you from there.
How to Get Over Your Dental Phobia
We’ve broken down the key steps to help you overcome your Dental Phobia. This condition is so common that dentists are now trained to help you feel safer when in their care. You just need to find the right dental practice to suit your needs.
Find the right dentist.
Choosing the right dental practice in Bristol is at the very heart of starting your recovery journey. The more relaxed you feel, the more positive of an experience you’ll have.
Finding the right dentist can be difficult when there are loads of websites online. That’s why thorough research is so important. We recommend you look at the ‘team’ and ‘about us’ pages, read testimonials, and have a virtual tour to familiarise yourself with the practice.
It’s also important to see what each practice offers nervous patients, as not all dental practices offer Sedation Dentistry. At The Bristol Dental Practice, our dentists have untaken extensive training in Conscious Sedation at the Eastman Dental Hospital (UCL) to be able to offer this service to our patients. Ensuring that you feel relaxed and safe within our practice is our priority, but this won’t be possible everywhere. It’s best to research what each practice offers for nervous patients, so you understand how they can help you.
Open communication is key. That’s why we ensure you stay informed during the entire treatment process. We want you to trust us, and honest communication is a crucial part of this.
The Bristol Dental Practice is a judgement-free environment. There’s no need to feel ashamed of the condition of your mouth, especially if it has been a while since your last visit. We’re confident that we can help improve the health and appearance of your teeth, no matter the condition. We will also discuss the best ways to care for your dental health, reducing the times you will need to visit us. This is good news if you fear visiting the dentist!
To us, communication is valuable. But, if talking about clinical procedures makes you more fearful, distraction and sedation may be better for you.
Distraction can be a useful tool if the practice environment itself is a trigger. Listening to music through earphones can really help to block out the space.
Having a loved one or friend come to accompany you can also help. We understand how a familiar face in an unknown environment is great for minimising fear.
At The Bristol Dental Practice, we’ll do our very best to accommodate any requirement that will make you feel more at ease while you are with us.
We’ve seen Conscious Sedation Therapy do wonders for our nervous patients. It can make you feel relaxed enough to undergo treatment and can even undo years of anxiety and fear. Hence, many nervous patients come back to us again and again. Some even come back without the need for sedation, which means it has helped them quash their fears.
Conscious sedation allows patients to communicate with the dentist throughout the procedure. Also, unlike general anaesthesia, IV sedation won’t leave you feeling groggy afterwards. Patients are often surprised by how good they feel without any side effects.
Good news: This means you can have conscious sedation whenever you need dental treatment.
Scared of needles? Dental sedation is usually administered via the back of the hand using a small needle called a cannula (Intravenously). But we can also provide it via your mouth, nose or through a mask if you are afraid of needles.
Scared of the dentist but need treatment? Try Sedation Therapy at The Bristol Dental Practice.
If you’d like to learn more about dental sedation for nervous patients here in Bristol, call 0117 910 5929 or email us.
All our team members who provide sedation therapy have extensive training in comforting anxious patients. Dr Jonathan Cochrane is an expert in sedation, completing his certificate at UCL in 2017. Since then, he has effectively carried out numerous treatments under intravenous sedation. Dr Carelyn Isaac is an award-winning sedation dentist with over a decade of sedation experience. With a passion for patient care, Dr Chris Chucas has also taken additional qualifications in sedation to ensure all patients have the best experience.
Dr Rob Edicott retired from Clinical Dentistry in 2018 but continues to deliver sedation for our patients.