DIAGNOSIS: Dental Fear

Dental Health News from Dr. Durden

Do you know someone that is afraid of going to the dentist?  If you do, you probably know, this is a very “real” anxiety.

Between 5% and 8% of Americans avoid dentists out of fear.  A higher percentage, perhaps 20%, is apprehensive enough that they will go to the dentist only when they have a problem.  About two-thirds of these individuals connect their fear to a previous bad experience in the dentist's office.  (webmd.com)

Studies show that fear of dentists is not so much worrying about pain as it is the lack of “control of the situation” that anxious patients perceive when in the dental chair.

This feeling of helplessness can trigger a “fight-or-flight” physiological response, and fear takes over.  Some patients even experience this feeling just walking into a dental office.

Understanding the emotional side of the fear can help.  Even so, it can be hard to “talk yourself into it” – this is where we come in!  A few tips that we have seen work with other patients:

·         Get to know us -  It sometimes helps to meet me and my team prior to having any treatment completed.  We can schedule a brief introductory appointment in which we sit for a chat in our consultation room, away from the clinical area.  In this meeting, I can learn more about your dental history and offer options to make you completely at ease while in our care.

·         Bring along a friend or family member that is comfortable with seeing the dentist.  Having someone you trust close by is sometimes helpful and reassuring during treatment.

·         Use distraction to your advantage.  We offer music headphones and television viewing during treatment  (One tip is to listen to music that you have never heard before, so you are more focused on the new music than your surroundings.)

·         Try relaxation techniques, such as controlled, deep breathing or muscle group focus exercises, in which you consciously tighten and relax muscles to ease body tension. 

·         Ask questions about your dental treatment.  We make it a priority to help our patients fully understand their care.  This is very beneficial to all patients, and has proven especially helpful for individuals that are apprehensive about dental procedures  -  knowledge puts you in control.

·       Talk with us about sedation options for dentistry, in which we can help you achieve a fully relaxed state to accomplish the dental treatment you need without fear.
We invite you to Contact Us if you or a loved one is fearful of visiting the dentist – we can help!

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