How to Overcome a Fear of the Dentist
Are you scared of the dentist but need treatment? If this is the case, rest assured that you are not alone.
Many people experience a great deal of “dental phobia” when it comes to your family visiting the dentist. These dental phobias can happen for many reasons: perhaps you are scared to see the dentist because you have bad teeth or really bad teeth, perhaps some of you are self-conscious because you have really bad breath, maybe there is a fear of dentist needles or perhaps you are scared just because it has been a long time since you have seen a dentist. The point is, there are many reasons why we fear going to the dentist. Many of those fears stem from our childhood.
Let’s take a quick review of what we may have experienced in our childhood and how to deal with dental anxiety and phobias that may have developed. Additionally, you may want to read more about our pediatric dental services in Plymouth, MN.
How to Overcome Dental Anxiety
If you are over thirty I think many of us can relate to our dental visit when we were children. Just walking down the hall to your dental office you could probably recognize that certain “dental office smell” emanating from your dentist’s office as you got close. (FYI, for those who are curious, that dental office smell was eugenol. Oil of cloves or eugenol is commonly used by dentists because it is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. They often apply it to the gums to kill germs and relieve the pain of dental surgery such as tooth extractions, fillings, and root canals.
Now when you walk into your dental office you will no longer notice the eugenol smell. Since we know that smell is a big memory trigger if you smelled eugenol as an adult it would trigger those childhood memories and bring on your dental anxiety. Good news that dental offices have gotten smart and rid themselves of the eugenol smell.
Smile Design Dentistry Staff Understand Dental Phobia
A second memory you may have from your childhood is the sound of that dental drill. You know that high-pitch whiney sound you could hear even in the waiting room. Taking it a step further you can remember sitting in the dentist chair, white-knuckled as your dentist asked you to “Open wide!”. Unfortunately, there may have been discomfort as your dentist began drilling. Sounds are another major memory trigger so from that moment on you associated that dental drill sound to the pain you experienced. Guess what that does to your dental anxiety or dental phobia now when you hear that high-pitched whine? You guessed it.
Bad memories get triggered, and you feel the fear and anxiety all over. You will probably notice now when you or your children go to the dentist office there is no high-pitched drill sound. Dental offices and dental equipment companies are aware of the effect that sound has on people so it has been improved with modern dental equipment. At Smile Design Dentistry we also offer headphones tuned to your favorite television show to help reduce these sounds and to divert your attention to something more pleasant.
As well, we understand that you may have questions about amalgam fillings and whether or not you should replace them. To avoid possible risks of allergic reactions, we can discuss with you the cosmetic benefits our office affords you with more current treatment options.
Fear of Dental Visits Could Mean Missing Important Dental Treatments
A third memory you may have experienced are those dentist needles! Yikes, sitting in the chair, again with white-knuckles as the needle comes closer. Sometimes the discomfort of the needle delivering an anesthetic and trying to get the area numb was more painful than the procedure itself.
We know that smells and sounds are major memory triggers so it should be no surprise that sight is also a trigger. Often after that poor experience, you may associate needles with pain where we should be associating this procedure with the pain relief the anesthetic provides to reduce fear. What doctors have learned since then is to incorporate more skill with the delivery of the anesthetic.
Our Solutions for Overcoming a Fear of the Dentist
Some techniques to share are really simple and subtle.
* Communication: For instance when the doctor now gives anesthetic he or she will probably be chatting and massaging the area to distract you.
* Topical Anesthetic: We always start with a topical anesthetic to numb the area prior to the injection and then often administer only one drop of anesthetic to numb the tissue prior to delivering the rest of the carpule.
* Efficiency: One of the biggest keys to a painless injection though is speed. Of course we all want it over quick but generally the slower we go the more comfortable it is.
* Persoanl Asssurance: Knowing that this is one of the biggest causes of fear for patients, our doctors use every technique to assure your comfort during this initial phase of treatment.
Delaying Dental Care often leads to Increased Dental Anxiety
At Smile Design Dentistry we understand that there are many reasons behind why some individuals have dental phobia and anxiety. We work with people to overcome this uneasiness and applaud the many who do. Rest assured, you are not alone. Dental anxiety is more common than many patients realize.
An article titled “Types of Dental Fear as Barriers to Dental Care” posted on August 1, 2012 at the National Institute of Health reveals the following: “Between 9% and 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. Dental fears and negative attitudes have been examined as potential barriers to the utilization of dental care. In these studies, greater fear and more negative attitudes toward dentists and dental treatment have consistently been found. Fear is associated with a lower likelihood of a recent dental visit, fewer dental visits, greater delay in obtaining care, as well as more missing and decayed teeth.”
Another article published May 24, 2016 on Web MD that is title “Easing Dental Fear in Adults” says that, “between 9% and 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. Indeed, it is a universal phenomenon”. It helps to take action before your anxiety multiplies and inhibits your dental care and overall health. We’ll partner with you as you commit to overcoming your fear of dentists.
Our Positive Approach to Reduce Common Dental Anxieties
There is also the guilt or embarrassment factor that gives many people anxiety about seeing their dentist. Maybe it has been a long time, say over 10 years since you saw your dentist, or you have really dirty teeth or bad breath, or you need treatment that you just have not taken care of. Any of these cases may make you wonder if you will be made to feel guilty or worse scolded for not having taken care of any of the conditions. For that, we have news.
We can guarantee you that no matter how bad or long it has been for your dental care our dentists have seen and heard worse. Dentists have learned that guilt or scolding methods do not work when trying to get a patient to dental health. It usually only succeeds in getting the patient to stay away longer. This only lets their dental health further deteriorate. Dentists today will work much more along the lines of co-diagnosis. Start by getting input from the patient as to what they have as concerns. Then educating them on exam finding and together creating a path to dental health that does not incorporate guilt or scolding.
“All of the staff members are very kind. They walked me through the process and let me know everything they were going to do because they knew how nervous I was. They were very interested in me and asked me about things we had talked about weeks prior, at my last appointment. I feel as if this dentist office truly cares about their patients as people, not just a number. Also, if you can, I recommend you get Dr. Moore to tell you his really funny dad jokes. They will crack you up!” – Megan Korea
Our Staff Works In Partnership with You
A common scenario that we often find is the phobic patient is the least likely to receive regular care. When they finally gather the courage to come in for treatment it is often because they are in severe pain. They now associate the dental office with their pain and the cycle worsens. We try to educate patients that when a person receives regular care and achieves a healthy mouth that dentistry is easy and does not hurt.
If you had difficult experiences from dentistry in the past you will find that today’s dentistry should be near painless. With improved dental techniques, better aesthetics and a true compassion for our patients, we are confident that we can provide your care in a safe and comfortable environment. The dental industry is slowly turning the tide on perceptions of pain and fear. But it is a process that will take time. If you are one of those who has dental phobias or dental fears consider giving Smile Design Dentistry chance.
You will be pleasantly surprised with the skill and compassion of our Plymouth, Minnesota care doctors and staff. Call us at 763-537-1238.
Dr. Corey Jensen is a lead dentist at Smile Design Dentistry in Plymouth, Minnesota. Dr. Jensen has accumulated over 2400 additional hours of advanced education in his continued pursuit of excellence. He has received the highest distinction of “Master” in the Academy of General Dentistry and has been repeatedly recognized by his peers as a “Hall of Fame -Top Dentist” in the Mpls/St.Paul magazine.