Maybe the sounds and smells bring back memories of bad experiences as a child, or make you think that having treatment will hurt.

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The good news is that more and more dentists now understand their patients’ fears. They realise that kindness and gentleness can do a lot to make dental treatment an acceptable, normal part of life.

Dental techniques have improved so much over the last few years that modern dental treatment can now be completely painless. Despite this, most people still feel a little nervous at the thought of going to the dentist. If you have not been to see a dentist for some time, you will probably find that things have improved a lot since your last visit.

If you are nervous about dental treatment, you need to be looked after by a dental practice that will take special care of you. You may need to travel some distance, but it will be worth the effort when you are no longer afraid.

The first fear to deal with is the fear of telling other people that you are afraid of dental treatment. If you can discuss it with your friends or colleagues you are likely to find someone else who has similar problems. They may be able to recommend a dentist to you. A dentist who is personally recommended by another nervous person is usually a very good choice.

Your first appointment should just be for a consultation. See it as an opportunity for you to ‘interview’ the dentist, receptionist and other members of the team, and have a chat about what to expect next. The dentist may check your teeth with a mirror and probe and may take x-rays before developing a treatment plan.

Make sure that the team know you are nervous, so that they can help you.

People often feel better if a friend comes with them to the practice. Think about what would suit you best. A reassuring and capable friend is often a great help.

Listening to music is a good way to help you relax. Some practices have it playing in the treatment rooms, but the best way is to take headphones and your phone or MP3 player so that you can have your own choice of music.

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