Fear of the dentist is really a misnomer. Most people fear the dental visit not the actual dentist. On average, most people like their dentist and their dental team. Fear comes in when thinking about treatment.
As a matter of fact, only about 5 – 8% of people are truly dental phobic. These are people that are so afraid of treatment that they wouldn’t even dream of making an appointment or coming in for a visit. Severe dental phobics end up compromising their health because of their fear and anxiety.
If you experience a small amount of anxiety before heading to the dentist, you are not alone; most people do. How can you help yourself so you don’t feel so anxious? Most professionals would agree that if you can determine why you feel anxious, you can be proactive so that you may feel less anxious.
Here is a list of the common reasons people feel anxious about the dental treatment.
Fear of Pain – Many people think going to the dentist will be painful. Those feelings are usually from their own early dental visits. In today’s modern dentistry, you should not feel pain at the dental office. Lidocaine, nitrous oxide, oral and iv sedation are all available as pain relievers in most dental offices.
Loss of Control and Helplessness – This fear is similar to that of flying on a plane where you are not in control of anything. Understanding all of the procedures that you will be under going might be the nugget of information that sets you free from loss of control and/or helplessness. Converse with your dental team so they can give you the information you need that would help alleviate feeling out of control and helpless.
Embarrassment – Some people are embarrassed by the condition of their mouth. Additionally, they don’t care for having people so close to their face. Try to pick a dental office where the staff is nonjudgmental. A dentist interested in helping people have the best oral care are often non judgmental. Why? They understand that helping you overcome your fear and getting you on the road to excellent oral health is far more important than judging the state of your teeth.
Negative Past Experiences – Awful dental experiences have the tendency to follow us around like a shadow. Reconciling those experiences and understanding most dentists are great practitioners is a must.
After you pinpoint your fear and understand it better. Find a dentist you can discuss your fears with. Most dentists will be able to help feel much better about your visits.
If you need help finding a great dentist, ask your friends who they see and ask them specifics questions…Is he/she kind? Does he/she judge? Is the dental team kind? Do you feel more like family or a stranger when you visit? Probing questions will get you better information about how the culture of a dental office is. Some practitioners make customer service (and kindness) their top priority and it shows!
This article was written by Gregg Hendrickson DDS, Henderson NV in response to questions about dental fear. We hope you have enjoyed it!