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Don’t fear the dentist, fear the consequences

Dr. Julia Williamson explains why you shouldn't feel anxious about going to the dentist.

19 April, 2024

The visit to the dentist is an appointment we’ve all dreaded or may have even avoided at some point in our lives. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Dr. Julia Williamson joins us to discuss why you shouldn’t let anxiety get the better of you when it’s time for that all-important dentist appointment.

We will only drill away the amount that is absolutely necessary

A lot of patients today are still apprehensive about going to the dentist. The industry has evolved quite drastically over past 20 to 30 years. Dentistry in the UK is now more centred around minimally invasive treatment. This means that we’re more hesitant to pick up a drill which can damage your natural teeth. If it is unavoidable, we will only drill away the amount that is absolutely necessary. This allows us to be more conservative and preserve as much of your natural tooth structure as possible. Years ago, a tooth that was doomed for extraction and was due to have a silver filling to replace can now be saved with a much smaller white filling. These advancements are also helping to improve the appearance of patients. For example, converting from silver fillings to white fillings can be an enjoyable experience for patients to see the difference in their appearance, and as a result, patient satisfaction has increased over time.

I think dentistry should be a painless process for patients. There is often a way around to avoid anything that can cause any form of pain or discomfort. For instance, if you dislike injections, we can apply a topical numbing cream beforehand to reduce any sensitivity that you might feel. If need be, you can find an ‘understanding’ dentist that will be more gentle who you feel more comfortable with. You can always ask around for recommendations as some dentists are particularly good with patients who are nervous. Once you have made your choice, you will probably have that dentist for life. If you are still hesitant to approach your dentist, go to a practice that a family member has been visited before. They should be able to help you gauge if a given dentist is suitable for you. Remember, when a dentist sees you for the first time, they’re looking for ways to keep you as a returning patient. It also makes their job easier to have a calm, relaxed patient in the chair rather than one who’s feeling uneasy and anxious. So, it’s in the best interest of your dentist to be gentle and handle you with care to the best of their ability.

If you have not been to the dentist in years because you’re anxious about what the dentist may find or what they might recommend going forward, just remember that it is just a check-up at first. It will often last between 10 to 15 minutes and they will not force you into any treatment. They will likely take some x-rays and lay out all possible options, before coming up with a treatment plan.

The final decision is entirely up to you. It may also help to think about the consequences that you may face in the future and the possibility of teeth deteriorating if you postpone check-ups or treatments.


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