Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Afraid of the dentist?

Afraid of the dentist?Why we're nervous

An unpleasant experience in the past may be the cause of the anxiety. Other common concerns include fear of injections, the anaesthetic not working, concerns about unnecessary treatment and anxiety about cross-infection.

What can be done?

Don't be embarrassed about expressing your concerns and talk to your dentist. If you haven't been for a while, you may wish to contact a number of practices first and explain your concerns over the phone.

If you need treatment, ask plenty of questions and make sure you understand exactly what will happen, which should help you to feel more in control. You may also wish to take a friend or relative with you for support.

If the thought of a long treatment session is worrying you, discuss it with your dentist and work on a coping strategy, such as a hand signal if you need to take a break for a few moments.

If your anxiety is very strong you may wish to explore some of the following approaches:

* Relaxation techniques
* Sedation
* Hypnosis
* Psychotherapy
* Acupuncture

Prevention is best

Get in the habit of seeing your dentist as often as they recommend, so complicated and unpleasant treatments can be avoided. Most problems should be detected early, helping you steer clear of extensive treatment.

Make sure you look after your teeth properly. You should spend at least two minutes every morning and night on your brushing and flossing routine.

Watching what you eat can help reduce your risk of tooth decay, too. Some of the bacteria in our mouths love the sugars and starches found in foods. They turn these into acid, which causes decay. Limiting your intake of sugary and starchy foods helps to prevent tooth decay and the need for dental treatment.

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