A personal reflection by Perri Griffin
Many people in the UK and around the world fear the dentist. Except kids, they often don’t, perhaps because they are usually rewarded with a big shiny sticker! Dentistry is a very common fear along with spiders, heights and my personal preference of flying.
According to statistics from the Oral Health Foundation, almost half of UK adults have a fear of the dentist, 12% of whom suffer from a severe phobia.
There are many reasons why people might be frightened. Maybe this is due to a bad experience or listening to horror stories from parents or friends. More often than not, it is fear of the unknown. Along with thoughts ‘what if I’m sick or faint or cry?’ when actually it really doesn’t matter if you were to do any of those things. We are here to support and reassure you.
What is fear?
An unpleasant emotion caused by threat of danger, pain or harm.
…. you are not in danger
.… we have pain relief
….. we absolutely mean you no harm
You are in complete control!
But we do understand that fear and anxiety are very normal emotions when visiting the dentist. Yes, we are in your personal space, but at any point you can call a pause or halt so you are actually in control.
You can put your trust in us…
Whatever your concerns or worries are, we are here to listen to you.
Throughout my career as a dental nurse, I have always had a mission to help people overcome their fear of the dentist. I find it extremely rewarding to build a relationship of trust with patients so they overcome their fear and experience the success of doing so.
Earlier in my career I worked with a lady that hadn’t visited the dentist since she was a child. She was around 70 years old. On her first visit she came in quivering with fear and very tearful. Her teeth were loose and painful, she couldn’t eat and was underweight, her confidence was low. She knew she could no longer carry on her life like this. After lots of reassurance, we successfully supported her through the treatment she needed - at her pace. I will never forget one of the last times I saw her. It was like looking at a new woman. She was smiling. She dressed differently. She had a new hair style and gained weight. Her confidence was back. I have no doubt that it had changed her life. She took great joy in telling me she now regularly enjoys a steak. She will forever stay in my mind and a part of her will always be with me, as I’m sure I still have the marks on my hand where she dug her nails in so hard!
People often say that they’re being silly or it is an irrational fear. Fears aren’t silly, they are a part of human nature.
I know one thing, many people can manage or overcome this fear with the support of a good dental team. I’ve seen it happen many times, so I know you can too.
We are here to help you!