Having a fear of anything can at times make life difficult. If that fear happens to be of the dentist, then oral health can seriously suffer as a result. A fear of the dentist could stem from a previous bad experience or maybe the fear stems from panic or worry that treatment will be painful, and you won’t cope.

Did you know dental anxiety is the most common fear in the world and affects 50% of adults.

Whatever causes the fear of dental treatment it’s important to seek support because avoiding dental care can often lead to serious and even irreversible damage to oral health.

If someone has dental anxiety, it is likely they have put off going to the dentist for a while, and the longer they leave it, the bigger a problem it becomes, and before you know it, it has grown and grown into a huge cycle of avoidance for them.

We Have Some Solutions to Help

Helping Your Child Visit the Dentist’ is a book-based guide for parents of children aged 6 months to 8 years who are scared to visit the dentist. In 36 colourful fun pages, parents learn how to prepare and attend dental appointments with a plan. Jargon free and accessible, including over 20 illustrations that engage and inform. Clear, practical and helpful advice written by the award-winning team behind some of the World’s most used CBT resources. Buy the book here.

‘Getting the dental care you need – Getting through an urgent dental appointment’ is aimed at adults who are scared to see a dentist, but now need urgent treatment for pain or other symptoms. This book can be used by dentists and directly by members of the public. It will help them understand the origins of their dental fears and learn strategies to get through an urgent dental appointment. Buy the book here

In this book you will learn:

  • How past experiences still affect you now – understanding how your fears about visiting the dentist have developed can help you understand your reactions now.
  • Understanding dental anxiety – what we think affects how we feel emotionally, and in our bodies. All this then adds up to affect what we do.
  • My emergency dental kit – getting pain relief. Dentists are experts in pain management.
  • Agree and practice your start stop signals plan – you are in control.
  • Focus on calm – controlled breathing and relaxation techniques, these can help to calm nerves and distract from any procedures.
  • Listen to music or an audio book – create a favourite play list.
  • Understanding what to expect in the event of a tooth extraction – and how to get through this.
  • Write your dental care agreement with your dental team.
  • Learn from what happened – your review of how it went and how to start thinking about long term change.

Dental Anxiety Courses

We aim to help families, teens, and practitioners to unpack and dispel myths and preconceptions of all things dental and help by offering advice and tips for how to navigate your dental appointments.

Four free courses are available, aimed at teenagers, parents or dental practitioners. Find out more here www.llttf.com/dental

As we previously mentioned if someone is struggling to go to the dentist, maybe they have avoided it, because it makes them feel uncomfortable – initially avoiding the dentist it probably felt helpful – in the short term, but in the long term only compounds their anxious feelings about going to the dentist and before you know it you, they have fallen into a vicious cycle of avoidance.

Click here to download the face it planner sheet

There are worked examples in our Worry Box Book, which is available for both young people and adults.

Face It

It’s natural when we fear something to avoid it. It makes sense, doesn’t it? However, the trouble is avoiding things doesn’t fix them. It’s easy to fall into patterns of behaviour that make us feel safer at the time and we get that sense of relief. But in the long-term avoidance backfires and reduces our confidence – so our world becomes smaller and smaller, chipping away at our confidence even more.

Click here to download the worksheet

Fix It!

If worry is caused by an external challenge or problem (like going to the dentist) that needs to be tackled but seems too much to do? The good news is that if you’re facing one big problem in your life, all you have to do is fix the problem that’s causing it.

Click here to download the worksheet

Forget It

If feeling overwhelmed by worry around going to the dentist, these types of worries can become a habit going round and round in our minds (rumination), so worrying thoughts can feel very difficult to shift. If so, the third element of the Worry Box programme- Forget it– can help you respond differently.

Break The Problem Down

The first step is to cut the problem down into chunks, and tackle one manageable chunk at a time. Then you work out how you’re going to sort out each chunk, by making a plan and carrying it out. It’s called the Easy 4-step Plan (E4SP).

Problems are like climbing walls we need to know where to start and where to go next. The easy 4 step plan (link)will help you climb any wall – and tackle getting yourself back to visit the dentist.

Tension Control Training Technique

Another technique which will help people with worry and anxiety around going to the dentist is the Tension Control Training.

Tension Control Training (TCT) helps the person replace anxious feelings with calm feelings using mindfulness style body scan, and imaginal exposure.

It can be a very useful tool for aiding relaxation and improving your sleep. It provides a daily or twice daily practice. In addition, it provides a short intervention based around the words “Calm Control” that people can use very early on when they start to feel anxious, and allows them to shift their focus mentally, emotionally, and physically to a calm scene. It helps them release the tension they hold in their body. It is not to be confused with avoidance, or reassurance. Instead, it’s a helpful, empowering, and widely used approach that has helped large numbers of people.

Find out how to use our tension control training and download the script for practitioners here.

Find out more about our online courses, books and resources visit www.llttf.com

For the dental online course go to www.llttf.com/dental

The Living Life to the Full Team.

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