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So yesterday I had my first dental treatment in over 5 years... A pretty big bit of repair work to a previously filled tooth that had broken.
To put it bluntly I was shitting myself.
The only experiences I ever remembered with a dentist were bad, my old dentist was rough, made me bleed and basically scared me for what I thought was life, I never thought I would set foot in a dentist ever again. My philosophy became 'if it don't hurt don't fix it' and although my broken tooth didn't hurt I knew it was inevitable that it would one day break even more.
The sound of the drill, the sensation, the trepidation and the fear of needles just kept me away completely and it's been a fair while since my tooth first broke and as I suspected, more came off last week so I had to bite the bullet (thankfully not in a literal sense) and book in.
Honestly this time last week I did not think I'd be writing this post, and don't get me wrong I am not completely rid of my phobia, but at the end of the day I don't think the dentist will ever be a pleasant experience But my aim is to try and make it a bearable experience, so here are my top tips for getting on the road to getting a bit of confidence back.
1. Think about why you have a fear, if it is something that your current dentist has done then consider changing; I think a lot of fear derives from the association of bad things; for example my dentist always got angry if I ever got upset; he never attempted to try and put me at ease he just told me to 'shut up and stop being so stupid'... Not good when you already feel silly for being upset. Ask around your friends and Family and see who they go to or who they've heard is good.
2. If you can afford it, go private. I know this isn't for everyone because it can get very expensive depending on your treatment. A check up at my new dentist costs £60 I think whereas NHS is around £20 I believe; yes this is expensive but I see it as an investment... I know she's going to do her best not to hurt me and I know she has the patience. TIME is very pressing with NHS dentists and often they are pressed for time and need you in and out as quick as possible which is why they aren't always accommodating when you need a bit of extra support. The one I go to is a 'minimal intervention' dentist which means that they work on prevention of problems rather than the cure. Plus if you are in desperate need of treatment, they generally don't have waiting lists.
3. Walk through the door; no matter how hard it is I recommend just going into the dentist and making an appointment, even with the NHS, book in for a check up. Turn up on the day, walk into the room and explain to the dentist what the problem is; only have him/her do what you are comfortable with. For example the first time I went I was in tears as soon as I walked in, I explained the obvious (that I was petrified) and she asked me to sit on the chair, I didn't lay down I just sat and chatted for 5 minutes and then I said that I was happy to lay back and let her have a look, providing she didn't put the hook thing in my mouth or touch any of my teeth, which she was fine with... She did at one point ask to put the hook in to test one tooth which I agreed to and she was soo gentle! She then took some X-rays (easy, pain free) and finally treated my teeth with a fluoride solution (again, easy and pain free) and BAM that was it, my first dental appointment over with and I walked out wondering what I fussed about. REMEMBER that YOU are paying the dentist to provide a service, whether NHS or private and you do not have to let them do anything you don't want, providing you are polite the dentist should be very obliging and understand your needs.
4. ASK for anything... Dentistry nowadays is way more advanced than it was even 5 years ago, I didn't know numbing gel even existed so when I had an anaesthetic injection I asked for plenty of numbing gel and she really did coat my whole gum in the stuff which meant that I didn't even feel the injection going in! Some dentists also have new technology called 'air abrasion' which means that where possible they will not use a drill; basically they blast away the bits of decay with tiny particles which makes it relatively noise and pain free!! At the end of the day... If you don't ask, you don't get.
5. Occupy your mind. If you actually get sat down in a dentist chair, first of all MASSIVE WELL DONE, be proud of yourself and second of all try and keep your mind occupied, it might sound totally daft and you might think it will never work but it does for me... I close my eyes and wiggle my toes, the right side 10 times and the left side 10 times, just the counting from side to side makes you think of something other than what's going on in your mouth.
6. Reward yourself, I know dentist treatment is expensive in itself but try and give yourself a treat afterwards; whether it's a lipstick you've been umm-ing and ahh-ing over for ages or just a takeaway later that night... Rewards aren't just for children, they work for adults too!!! My reward last night was an indian takeaway because I'd not had one in ages!
I hope this has helped someone in some way, if it gets one of my readers to a dentist after a number of years then I will be very happy... Trust me I never thought I would ever visit a dentist except unlesss I was totally sedated but I have broken the barriers and the feeling when Id had my filling was immense, I felt so proud of myself!!!
Please, Please, Please try and go, I know I sound like your mum now but I really regret leaving it so long because your teeth are such an important part of your body; everyone looks at them when you talk and healthy looking teeth will make you far more confident... and most importantly we all know how painful tooth ache is, so don't let it get to that stage!!
Anyway, enough of being Mother Hen... Are you scared of the dentist??