Is one of your new year’s resolutions to visit your dentist? For many people this can be a very stressful and fearful experience.
Dental phobia, or dental anxiety, is distressingly common amongst the general public; the recently published Adult Dental Health Survey showed that over a third of adults have a moderate dental anxiety and 12% are classified as having extreme dental anxiety.
Many of these people will avoid going to the dentist until a problem becomes so bad that there is no other alternative.
For these patients, though, help is at hand at a local dental practice in Scarborough.
Dr John Taylor, of John Taylor Dental Care, and his wife Joanna, who is a clinical hypnotherapist and master practitioner of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), aim to make their patients’ visits to the practice as relaxing and stress-free as possible.
Joanna (pictured above) says: ‘Phobias are very common indeed; people feel afraid of something and know that it’s irrational, but can’t stop the fear. Because we have a tendency to look for evidence to support our beliefs, when we hear “horror stories” from friends and family, one negative experience can build and grow rapidly out of all proportion. Each time we are exposed to whatever causes the fear, the fear response is triggered, which reinforces the belief.
‘Each time we try to avoid the phobia-inducing situation, it is once again reinforced, as the mere thought of the situation is associated with the anxiety.
‘However much we think we know consciously that the response is irrational, we can do little about it because the cause lies in our unconscious mind.
‘Often people live with their fears for years and don’t realise that it is possible to cure many phobias remarkably quickly,’ says Joanna.
‘Techniques such as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and hypnotherapy can effectively re-programme a person’s response to an event. For a phobia with a simple, consciously remembered cause, this can often be done in a single session with a qualified NLP master practitioner.’
Dr Taylor has a lot of experience with nervous and anxious patients.
He says: ‘It is very important that people come for a regular dental check; that way we can ensure that potential problems are sorted out at an early stage, before they start to cause discomfort. When patients avoid having their check-up because they are too anxious, this can lead to much greater problems and end up with them having another painful and fearful experience.
‘If we can help our patients to get rid of their phobia, that means their visit to the dentist becomes a much more pleasant experience for them and we can help them to maintain their dental and oral health much more easily.’
For both John and Joanna, the best moment of all is when a patient says the now familiar words, ‘Before we start, I’d just like to say that I used to be really scared of coming to the dentist until I came here – I feel totally different about it now!’