Are you trying to take better care of your teeth this year?
Regular visits to your dental health practitioner are essential for healthy teeth and gums. But what should you do if fear of the dentist is getting the better of you?
While none of us enjoy visiting the dentist, most of us won’t dread it. Yet anxiety about visiting the dentist is becoming increasingly common according to experts at King’s College London.
Writing in the British Dental Journal, the experts claim that those who have a severe fear of the dentist are more likely to have tooth decay or missing teeth.
The study compared the oral health of people with and without dental phobia, and also found those with dental phobia said their quality of life was poor.
“This phobia can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life, including on their physiological, psychological, social and emotional wellbeing,” says the study’s lead author Dr Ellie Heidari from the King’s College London Dental Institute.
“Other research has shown that people with dental phobia express negative feelings such as sadness, tiredness, general anxiety and less vitality. An action as simple as smiling will be avoided due to embarrassment of their poor teeth.”
Face your fears
According to the Oral Health Foundation, the most common fears for visiting the dentist are having a tooth drilled and having a local anaesthetic injection. But nobody is born with a dental phobia. You develop it – and most importantly, you can overcome it. Here are the charity’s five tips to combat a dental phobia:
Talk to someone and even see the practice before your appointment. Taking a friend and listening to music might help to relax any tension you have.
Make sure your dentist knows you are a nervous patient, including what you most dislike about treatment (eg. injections, drilling etc.).
Book an appointment at a time of day you feel most comfortable with. For instance, some people may be less nervous seeing their dentist in the morning, while others may feel more at ease later in the day.
Before treatment begins, agree a signal with your dentist that means ‘stop’ in case you need a break.
Contact one of the dental phobia support networks such as Dental Phobia (www.dentalphobia.co.uk).
How your pharmacist can help:
Taking good care of your teeth and gums is the best way to make sure that when you do see your dentist, you won’t need any treatments that involve injections or drilling. All the products you need to keep your smile healthy are available at your local LloydsPharmacy, including:
Toothbrushes: According to the Oral Health Foundation, adults should choose a small to medium-sized brush head with soft to medium multi-tufted round-ended bristles or filaments. Children’s brushes should have the same type of filaments but the brushes should be smaller. Tests also show that electric toothbrushes may be more effective at removing plaque than manual ones.
Toothpaste: Use a fluoride toothpaste, as fluoride helps reduce tooth decay in adults and children.
Interdental cleaning products: Cleaning in between your teeth with an interdental brush or floss helps to remove plaque and bits of food from areas a toothbrush can’t reach.
Mouthwash: Ask your pharmacist to recommend a fluoride mouthwash to help prevent tooth decay. Your dentist may suggest an antibacterial mouthwash to control plaque and reduce gum disease if you need it.