Visiting the dentist is probably not most people’s idea of fun; but is considered more of a necessary evil. A new survey has revealed that a huge 91% of respondents said they had experienced one or more signs of anxiety whilst waiting for a dental appointment.
The survey, carried out on behalf of solicitors, the Dental Law Partnership, asked 1,000 UK adults about their experiences of visiting the dentist and how it makes them feel. The signs of anxiety that they say they have experienced (one or more of) include:
- Feeling restless or ‘on-edge’ – 52%
- Feeling of dread – 49%
- Feeling panicky – 38%
- Dry mouth – 29%
- Sweating – 25%
- Feeling sick/nauseous – 25%
- Heart palpitations – 15%
- Dizziness or feeling faint – 12%
- Headache – 11%
- Shortness of breath – 10%
- Crying – 5%
Nearly 78% of respondents admitted that they had worried or felt nervous about dentist appointments before and 46% said they’d had a bad experience on a previous visit.
For those surveyed who recalled having had a bad experience at the dentist previously, 74% of them said they had experienced pain or discomfort during a dental procedure and 35% said they experienced pain after leaving the practice. Other bad experiences included:
- 19% felt their dentist was rude to them
- 23% didn’t trust that their dentist knew what they were doing
- 7% heard another patient screaming, shouting or crying
Other negative things experienced by survey respondents included their dentist overcharging for dental work or carrying out unnecessary treatments, placing a filling in the wrong tooth, problems with administering anaesthetic or it wearing off too soon, infections and abscesses suffered after the treatment, an episode of fainting in the chair and one respondent even recalled a dentist that watched golf on the TV whilst carrying out their dental treatment.
Dental anxiety is no joke; nearly 84% of the survey respondents who’d had a bad experience at the dentist previously said that it made them more anxious about going for dental treatment again. 28% even admitted missing or cancelling a dentist appointment since, directly due to their anxiety about it.
Chris Dean of the Dental Law Partnership commented: “It’s really important that people visit the dentist regularly to look after their oral health and catch any potentially serious problems early. Dental anxiety is a very real barrier to this and, sadly, we weren’t surprised by the results of this survey because we speak to people every day who have had a bad experience at the hands of a dental professional which has affected the way they feel about dentists.
“Most dentists are highly skilled and provide the high levels of care to their patients, but when dental care professionals are negligent, it can have a huge impact on the patient; both physically and psychologically. We think it’s important that people know they are able to make a complaint when they receive dental care that is substandard, and they may even be able to claim compensation for what has happened to them.”
The NHS website offers tips for those suffering from dental anxiety; these include:
- Finding an understanding dentist with experience of helping nervous patients
- Visiting the practice to look around before you join
- Picking an appointment early in the day so you have less time to worry
- Taking a friend or family member with you to your appointment
- Agreeing a signal with your dentist that you need to take a break