Individuals of all ages can experience a level of anxiety when their six-monthly dental check-up rolls around again, but this is usually nothing more than slight nerves at the thought of paying out for costly treatment.
While most clinics are not the most welcoming places in the world – with the smell of cleaning products and the sight of the chair daunting for some – those who visit their hygienist regularly will be aware of improvements made to the appearance of the offices.
Although this has made visiting the dentist a more pleasant experience for many, a select number of people will avoid booking a check-up at all costs, resulting in them developing severe issues with their teeth and gums.
Very often, individuals who underwent orthodontic treatment as a youngster will develop a phobia of dental procedures when they are older. For example, those who wore traditional braces with metal brackets to resolve issues with alignment.
During this course of action, many patients require tooth extractions to reduce overcrowding in their mouth, which can be an unpleasant experience – making it extremely difficult for people to return to the chair.
A memory of pain from a previous experience can also trigger a phobic reaction, while the embarrassment of wearing a brace could create negative feelings about further work being carried out.
In addition, the problem for some people can be the fact that dental treatment has become associated with a variety of negative factors including pain, cost, a long period of recovery time and self-consciousness.
Overcoming the natural instinct to protect themselves is difficult for the majority of people hoping to overcome a phobia as, while one part of the brain understands the simplicity of a check-up, the other is refusing to accept that this could be the case.
What does this mean?
The inability of a patient to visit the dental surgery on a routine basis could result in the emergence of a number of problems. Not only are individuals in danger of reversing the positive effects of previous work, problems that develop could worsen even more – bringing about the requirement for serious treatment.
While the years spent wearing braces may not be the happiest time for teenagers, this course of action is vitally important for them to grow up with a healthy mouth, as well as an attractive smile and natural facial balance.
In some cases, orthodontic work carried out during childhood could require slight correction in later life, which shows the importance of regular visits to the dentist in the meantime.
Furthermore, costly procedures performed in early life are usually viewed as a one-off investment, so failure to attend regular check-ups could mean treatment needs to be carried out when a patient gets older due to a lack of care.
For many people living with a phobia, the signs are characterised by a physical reaction – which can vary from shortness of breath to muscle tension around the jaw. An inability to relax is also common, resulting in sufferers having panic attacks before visiting the clinic.
The most common approach for resolving this issue is attempting to face up to it, but many people end up being unable to follow through after booking an appointment.
In some cases, the knowledge that an anxious reaction is likely to occur can make individuals more nervous before visiting their dentist, which only adds to the tension and makes the problem even worse.
Relaxation techniques are often tried by those who have developed a phobia, however, these can often make matters worse as they require a certain degree of thought, even earlier in the process.
Others may find a solution following counselling sessions, which can be used to encourage individuals to focus on the positive elements of previous dental work that has been carried out rather than simply the negative factors.
By understanding the previous procedures were a success, many patients find they are able to attend appointments more confidently than they previously could, while professionals are always on-hand to discuss methods of taking care of pearly whites effectively.
For this reason, changing the mindset of a sufferer is usually the best way to help them relax before a daunting trip to the dentist.