Being nervous about visiting the dentist is not uncommon, it is thought to affect a significant proportion of the adult population in the UK. In the late 1990s, a UK Adult Dental Health survey was conducted, and the results suggested that around one-quarter of adults ‘definitely’ felt anxious about visiting the dentist and a further quarter felt anxiety to ‘some extent’.
Although experiencing nerves in situations where we don’t feel fully in control is quite normal, for some of us we may actually be experiencing ‘dental anxiety’, which is a recognised condition.
How to spot dental anxiety
According to an article published in 2008 by dental experts Banerjee and Fiske, the signs of true dental anxiety can be grouped into three key categories: physiological, behavioural and cognitive. Physiological means symptoms that you can actually feel, behavioural are outwardly visible symptoms and cognitive describes the way you feel.
This is what you might expect to feel/experience in each of these if you are suffering from the condition:
- Looking pale, or alternatively, looking flushed
- Dry mouth
- Fast breathing (possibly evening hyperventilating)
- Tight feeling in stomach
- Tension in muscles
- Being angry/agitated and directing this at dental staff
- Cancelling or being very late for appointments
- Talking a lot on arrival (delaying the onset of the appointment)
- Dreading the appointment
- Feeling anxious, negative or generally apprehensive about what to expect
- Focussing on the worse-case scenario when considering different outcomes from the appointment
Does this sound familiar? It doesn’t have to be prohibitive to ensure your teeth are well cared for, you just need to ensure that you find a dental practice that recognises the condition and can help make the experience of visiting the dentist as stress free and calming as possible.
Putting patients at ease
Here at CK Dental, we acknowledge that for patients suffering from dental anxiety – and those who are just not entirely confident about visiting the dentist – booking an appointment to have a routine check-up can be very daunting. Our staff are specially trained to help patients feel at ease, and we believe that this begins with nurturing a caring and calm environment, plus talking openly with patients who have got concerns about their dental care.
Missing appointments, making excuses and generally assuming that your teeth are ok are all risky patterns of behaviour that could lead to longer-term serious dental problems, so if this resonates with your experience then it might be time to try and overcome these concerns and have a think about some of the more positive things associated with overcoming these concerns and getting a clean bill of health for your teeth.