• I'm anxious about going to the dentist.

    What can I do right now?

    Below is some advice to help you minimize the number of times you need to visit the dentist and help on how to reduce your fear of the dentist. There is more help on how to reduce your anxiety inside the Confidents app. If you have any pain in your mouth or teeth, let’s face it you need to do something sooner rather than later. The problem is unlikely to get better. Perhaps you are taking painkillers, or antibiotics that help. Here’s a few suggestions

     

    Be careful with those painkillers. Pain is horrible and tooth pain really terrible. Most of us would do anything to get rid of it. But be careful with how many painkillers that you take – particularly those that contain paracetamol. Read the instructions on the back of the packet carefully. If you are over 16 years of age, think about combining two medicines – ibuprofen and paracetamol. Your local pharmacist can give you advice, or see: https://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/857.aspx

     

    Go to the dentist. We know it is the last thing you want to do but we have some top tips to make it slightly more bearable:

    1. Be prepared to be anxious. You have probably avoided going to the dentist for ages and this first appointment will probably make you very anxious, but it may not be as bad as you think and imagine how great you will feel when you achieve it.
    2. Choose a dentist wisely – see FEMDA.org or alternatively https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/dentalhealth/Pages/Fearofthedentist.aspx
    3. Give yourself time. You will feel anxious before the visited and exhausted afterwards. You will have done something really difficult so give yourself a break for some time after the appointment to look after yourself.
    4. Make a list of what you want to talk about and what would help you. For example, if it would help not to sit in the dental chair straight away let the dental team know.
    5. Download the Confidents app and take the dental anxiety assessment. You can send of give this to your dentists so that he knows how anxious you are and what causes your anxiety.
    6. Decide how far you want to go. If you want your first visit to simply be about talking about the problem, then let the dentist know that - they will want to examine you at some point, but taking time to build confidence and trust is good for everyone.
    7. Agree a signal with your dentist that you can use to indicate that you need a break.
    8. If it will help take someone with you who can support you and say the things you might find difficult.
    9. Afterwards treat yourself to something special – even if it’s just a long walk or a coffee with a friend. You have done something incredibly difficult – recognise that and reward yourself.
    10. Remember – they’re your teeth you are in control !
     

     

    Look after your teeth. Here’s some things that you can do to look after your teeth. That way we can hopefully minimise the amount of dental work that you need.

    1. Avoid sugary foods and drinks. Here at FEMDA we love sugar – particularly cakes ! But they are bad for your teeth, the best advice is to try to minimise how often you have sugary foods and snacks, and preferably to only eat them as part of a meal. A bar of chocolate with your lunchtime sandwich is better for your teeth than the same bar eaten as a mid-morning snack or to regain energy after exercise. Now might be the time to stop having sugar in your tea or coffee or to switch to sugar free drinks. There are other benefits as well. Now you are not having sugar in drinks you can have cake with your lunch.
    2. Clean your teeth well – first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Two minutes of brushing with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day is great for your teeth and gums. Don’t worry too much about the fluoride – most toothpastes have fluoride nowadays – find one with a taste you like ! You don’t need to brush more than 2 minutes.
    3. Clean your teeth even if your gums bleed. Often when you clean your teeth, particularly if you are over 30 your gums will bleed. You might think this is a bad thing and imagine you should stop brushing. But actually the bleeding is a sign that you need to keep cleaning – there is a small wound on your gums there that needs cleaning up with the toothbrush and toothpaste. It should stop bleeding after a week or so of regular toothbrushing
    4. Think about an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes are designed for people who struggle with the proper technique of toothbrushing – here at FEMDA we love our electric toothbrushes. The price of these brushes can vary enormously but you just need to find one with a small circular head. It is worth looking around and thinking of what you need – but a rechargeable battery may be useful because you are going to be using this everyday (twice) for the rest of your life! I would expect to spend about £25 to 30, but here’s the cheapest we could find on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Oral-B-Stages-Electric-Toothbrush-Battery/dp/B01ERVW2SUAnd in case you’re interested – here is the most expensive one we found !https://www.amazon.co.uk/Oral-B-SmartSeries-Toothbrush-Bluetooth%C2%AE-Connectivity/dp/B00KBWBALK/It’s up to you whether having Bluetooth is important to you !
    5. Use mouthwash. We recommend using mouthwash after you have eaten in the middle of the day – you want to get a mouthwash that contains fluoride and one that you like the taste of. Swill a mouthful around your mouth for two minutes after your lunch. That will help keep the teeth nice and clean and healthy. If you are bold you can do it at your desk, or if less bold pop to the loo. Leave the big bottle at home and pour some into a little bottle that you can have with you at work or out of the house.

     

    Keep going to the dentist. Again we know that this is the last thing that you want to do ! But now that you have started to build a relationship with a dentist, it is a great time to continue. Anxiety feeds on avoidance, the longer you leave it to go back, the more difficult it will be to return. Also once you are not in pain anymore, you can start thinking about working with your dentist to get that lovely smile you have possibly been dreaming about.

     

    Remember, these are your teeth and you are in control. Your visits to the dentist will be challenging, but they should never be overwhelming, go at a pace which you can cope with.

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