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Afraid of the dentists? You’re not alone.

A new survey has revealed that the British public has a real dental phobia with 84% of men and 71% of women admitting they feel anxious in the run up to their dental check-ups, blaming the fear of the unknown and their childhood memories of the dentist.

From the survey, 62% of participants associate the dentists with negative dental experiences during their childhood, with 83% of these people blaming these memories for their current fear of the dentist. Most shockingly, the survey of 1,000 participants reveals that this often results in people avoiding check-ups altogether, sometimes for several years at a time. An overwhelming 58% of people admitted that they haven’t visited their dentist in over two years and 21% of people aren’t registered to a dental practice at all, ultimately increasing the chances of developing serious dental problems.

Top reasons why people are scared to visit the dentist:

  1. Childhood Memories – 31%
  2. Injections – 28%
  3. Machinery Noises – 19%
  4. Clinical Smell – 13%
  5. Intimidating surroundings -9%

The survey also highlights that despite our teeth being a key attribute to our appearance, oral health is often overlooked. People in their twenties were found to have the worst dental hygiene with 41% admitting that they haven’t visited the dentist since their teenage years. 38% of adults aged 21-29 also confessed that they don’t brush their teeth twice a day and never floss. In order to avoid major issues with teeth and/or gums, recognised best practice is to visit a dentist every six months for a check-up and also see a hygienist twice a year.

Sameer Patel, Clinical Director at elleven comments; “When looking at the survey results, it’s astonishing to see how many people say they are scared of visiting the dentist. The typical dentist’s surgery has moved on drastically in recent years and it is not a scary place to be; advances in modern dentistry have reduced the pain, noise and smells which many remember from their childhood. A good dentist will always do their best to create a warm and welcoming environment that their patients feel safe in, reassuring them throughout their dental experience. Here at elleven we hope that the beautiful surroundings and our friendly staff make each patient feel special – from the child coming for a first visit to a pensioner wanting implant surgery.”

Sameer’s top tips to ease your fear of the dentist:

  1. Do your research – When looking for a new dentist, take your time in finding the right one for you. Visit several different practices, speak to the staff and you will know which one makes you feel most at ease.
  2. Find a friend – Your dentist is not just someone that looks after your teeth but they should also be your friend. Make sure that you feel comfortable around them and having an informal chat about where you are off on your next holiday will always make you feel more relaxed!
  3. Recommendation – When on the hunt for a new dentist, always ask friends, family or even work colleagues about a dentist they visit and can recommend. Word of mouth is a great way to find a reliable and experienced dentist.
  4. It’s all about timings – If you are booking an appointment, choose one that is early in the morning as this will mean you have less time to dwell on it and think about it.
  5. Take a buddy – Take a friend with you to your appointment. The dentist won’t mind if they accompany you throughout the check-up or treatment and knowing that they are there to support you will help make you feel more relaxed.
  6. Signs – Agree a sign with the dentist to signal that you need a break and want them to stop when you are having your treatment. It can be as simple as pointing your finger and this will help you feel more in control.
  7. Music – Don’t like the sound of the dentists? Take a personal stereo with you to listen to music during your visit – it will help you to relax.
  8. Communicate – When you visit the dentist, be sure to tell them that you are anxious about your appointment. A good practice will do everything they can to make you feel at ease and relaxed.
  9. Visualise – When in the dentist’s chair, try to relax by closing your eyes and imagining yourself in a relaxing environment. This could be at home on the sofa or at your favourite holiday location. This will help remove you from the environment of the dentist, ultimately removing the negative feelings you are experiencing, making you feel more at ease.
  10. Take a Break – When at the dentist, discuss how long the treatment will take and ask if it would be possible to have a break half way through. This will break up the time of the treatment, making it more manageable for you.
  11. Build Your Confidence – If you don’t feel confident enough to have a full dental treatment, visit your dentist for a general check-up to start with. This will be short and straight forward and will make you feel more at ease about visiting the dentist again. For your next visit, book a hygienist treatment which is still a straight forward treatment and this will build your confidence.
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