Regular dental check-ups are a necessity, but they needn’t be a nasty one. Dentistry has come a long way, with many procedures nowadays totally painless (yes, even injections!), and practitioners skilled at calming even the most nervous of patients.
Extreme dental anxiety, often caused by a bad experience during childhood, can cause a patient to sweat, tremble, cry and even struggle to walk through the dentist’s door in the first place. In many cases, this fear may prevent them from visiting their dentist routinely – that is, until a small, easily preventable problem has become so painful that it can no longer be ignored. Ouch!
We chatted to Dr Bernard Siew from Smilefocus dental clinic in the heart of Orchard about strategies and relaxation techniques to make your experience less stressful at every stage. After all, it’s worth checking every box of your long-term dental health.
Find a dentist you trust
“The single most effective way to help you overcome your fear is to find a dentist that you’re comfortable with and whom you trust,” says Dr Siew. “This means a dentist who is patient, takes the time to discuss your anxieties, communicates the various options and recommendations available to you and has a no-pressure approach.”
Booking your first appointment
“When making the appointment, let the receptionist know you’re a nervous patient. This will mean that you’re allocated more time to ensure you have sufficient opportunity to discuss your fears with the dentist,” says Dr Siew. “And, make sure your appointment is arranged for a time when you’re not otherwise under stress – a lunchtime slot before a major business meeting may not be ideal!”
During the appointment
“Try to arrive early and consider bringing a friend or family member along to the appointment for support,” says Dr Siew. “The first visit for an especially nervous patient may be simply a chance to talk through any issues – we may look, but not progress treatment. We can also offer the resources of a professional counsellor trained in relieving dental phobia, if required.”
Time for treatment
“The Smilefocus clinic is fitted with televisions, which can be a welcome distraction during your treatment. Request headphones if the noise of the drill unsettles you,” says Dr Siew. “Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and sedation by a qualified anaesthetist in the clinic is available, if appropriate and necessary.”
Hop over to our Dental section for more!