Managing dental anxiety successfully
Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting to Lisa Fitzpatrick, a patient at Centre for Dentistry in Rustington, about her fear of the dentist. With the help of Dr Jenny Andrews and the team at CFD Rustington, Lisa has taken important steps to manage her anxiety, face her fears head on and successfully complete required dental treatment.
Lisa spoke initially of her past experiences at the dentist… “I absolutely hated dentists. I think it stems from being a child – you’re a small child with a big man towering over you and plus you’re going there for a seemingly bad reason. My mum was agoraphobic so I only ever went to the dentist when I needed work doing. I remember having an appointment at 2.30pm (difficult to forget that time)! I felt like my heart was thumping out of my chest. I remember the horrible clinical smell and the anxious wait in the waiting room – it seemed like hours.”
Often, our memories from childhood or a single bad previous experience visiting a dentist really do have an impact and affect how we approach our dental care – whether that’s consciously or subconsciously. Lisa lost a bridge so that’s what prompted her to book in for an emergency appointment with Dr Jenny Andrews.
“I shop here in Sainsbury’s Rustington and had heard of Centre for Dentistry being in store. I had a bridge fall out and needed to visit a dentist so I called and made an appointment. To be honest, I then cancelled it… I hadn’t been to the dentist in probably 5 years and I was so nervous. I did need some help so I called back. I spoke to Zoe, who was lovely, helped to calm me down and booked me in for the following day. This was probably for the best as I didn’t have too long to wait and worry about the appointment.
Walking through the door for that first appointment, I was so nervous. The team were brilliant though. Nick talked to me about my day and even showed me pictures of his dog whilst I was sat in reception, which was a welcome distraction and really helped to put me at ease.
On the first appointment, I didn’t have anything done. Jenny simply fixed my bridge in place and discussed my treatment options for other work that needed doing. By sitting on a stool next to me, she was on my level so not at all intimidating. She was very calming, polite and helpful.
I knew I needed to have some work done and a tooth taken out and I was convinced I wanted to be sedated at the hospital but over a 4 week period of coming into the practice every week, I slowly got to know Jenny. We talked about our family, what’s going on in our lives and it built up my confidence. Each time, I was reassured and the next step of treatment was explained to me in detail – often multiple times on each visit. Knowing exactly what was going to happen, I felt more in control and I ended up having my tooth out in the surgery with Jenny. She was very calming. The nurse was great too, holding my hand and constantly reassuring me. The next thing I knew the tooth was out! It’s amazing and I’m so proud of myself.
Jenny is now more of a friend than my dentist and it’s nice to come in. I really can’t big these guys up enough. I’d like to sincerely thank the whole team – they are lovely people and put you at ease straight away.”
Written by Jen Wilcox, Head of Marketing, Centre for Dentistry.