Many people have fear of the dentist. Some cannot sleep the night prior to their appointment, some make an appointment and then break it, and some do not go until there is an emergency situation and they are in great discomfort. Where does this dental anxiety stem from?
People with dental anxiety have many reasons for their fear. A large group will cite bad experiences when they were young and the dentist did not make them comfortable. Some had painful root canals, fillings, or extractions as adults. Many feel the loss of control when in the dental chair. Others have general anxieties in life and going to the dentist exacerbates those anxieties.
Fear of the dentist is quite common, and one should not think they are alone in this. It is easy to find friends and family members who will share their fear of the dentist, or their bad experiences at the dentist. Parents can also instill this fear in their children by their worries, discussions, & even body language.
It is important to discuss the fear with your dentist when you first meet them or after a negative experience that causes the fear to start. It is also essential that you feel comfortable with your dental provider. She or he must be sympathetic to your needs, allay your fears, and discuss how to ease and overcome them.
Sounds and smells of the office may trigger some of those fears as well. The dental office can provide television in the operatory as a distraction. Headphones can be used to help lessen the noise during the procedure. Patients can also have signals such as raising their hand to let the doctor know that they have a concern, or need to pause or stop. Nitrous oxide can be administered, or an oral sedative may be prescribed and breathing techniques may be used to help make the dental experience easier.
A dentist, who is sympathetic, will follow clues from the patient’s expressions or body language to see if the patient is in distress. Distraction and gentleness during administration of anesthesia is also used to help make it easier on the patient. Proper amount of anesthesia is used to ensure that no discomfort is experienced.
Dental anxiety is a reality. Patients however, need to have confidence that preventive care such as routine exams, and dental cleanings, are necessary in avoiding any major issues such as periodontal disease, the need for large fillings, root canals, or even the loss of necessary teeth. Everything in life needs attention and maintenance; houses, cars, relationships, and certainly our health. Proper care minimizes any major problems and protects what we care about and value.
In short, dental fear is a reality for many. Finding the proper dentist who can meet your needs, who can work with you, talk with you ,make you comfortable, and even help you overcome fear is the key to dealing with dental anxiety. The alternative of ignoring the needs of your oral health can be detrimental to your overall health and quality of life. Patients need to have confidence that once you meet the right dentist and establish a relationship with them and with a good office, dental anxiety will become a thing of the past, and you may even enjoy going to the dentist!