Overcome Your Fear of the Dentist
I have had an unhealthy relationship with the dentist chair. The glaring overhead light, the smell of bubblegum fluoride, the drilling noises. Honestly, I would rather teach a Sex Ed class to high school juniors than attend my 6 month check-up.”
These are the words of the writer Rachell Moreland, who when writing about her greatest fears lists fear of the dentist being the top of her list. She is not alone by a long shot! That is not only the reason we wrote this article it is because it seems our moral duty as dentists to let our patients know that we have them in mind. If you decide to read Rachel’s blog entry on this, you will see the humanity in this and that for some it helps to have someone say “Suck it up, buttercup” in her case or in other’s cases for them to seek professional help for dentophobia.
One of the greatest reasons for some people to stay away from their dentist is fear. In fact, as of today, according to a survey from the American Dental Association entitled “Why Adults Forgo Dental Care,” a large number of people miss preventive dental care just because of the fear of the dentist. If you don’t adhere to proper preventive measures in terms of oral health, even adverse consequences such as severe gum diseases and various other infections might occur.
The truth is, however, that most of the dentists have special ways of treating patients who are anxious and scared of dental treatments. Luckily, these specially trained dentists have many strategies and particular treatment methods that can practically reduce the pain significantly.
It is true that most of the traditional dental treatments are associated with some pains. Because of this very reason, a considerable percentage of people prevent from taking their essential dental treatments. Apart from that, a large number of people visit their dentist only after experiencing a severe, unavoidable health issue.
Oral Health Foundation tells us almost half of UK adults, Statistics Canada more than 40% of Canadian, . have a fear of the dentist, while in the United States estimated that approximately 75% of the population is scared of the dentist and have some degree of dental anxiety with approximately 10% of the population of avoiding seeing a dentist because of that anxiety (Source: Fear of Blog / Senova Dental). Interestingly, the Guardian points out that 75% of British patients said they had felt no pain during their visit to the dentist.
As Keystone industries pointed out around 11 percent of children don’t like to visit the dentist and about 12% said they were afraid, according to a study published in the European Journal of Dentistry.
As pointed out below by Pearl Dental Care:
12% of these suffers from an extreme dental anxiety.
Women are more likely to suffer from extreme dental anxiety than men.
Visiting the Dentist is ranked number one (22%) for making people nervous, even more, popular than heights (19%).
According to many experts, a regular person might feel anxious and scared mostly because of the uncomfortable, scary posture maintained during the treatment. You are virtually stuck on the dentist’s chair and you are not in a position to communicate with the doctor. When someone (dentist) is manipulating you while you cannot move or talk, it can be a pretty scary experience. Some of the dentists make this situation worse by creating an excessive amount of pressure on the patients. They don’t take much trouble in controlling the pain. Experts suggest that dentists can eliminate patients’ fear by putting more effort to make them comfortable and deploy more humanely treating strategies.
On the other hand, patients themselves have to think rationally and go for the greater good. As a patient, you can always discuss with your dentist prior to the treatment and see what can he do to make you relaxed. You may tell your dentist about your fear and if the dentist is a true professional, he will take all the possible actions to alleviate potential phobia.
Addressing the fear effectively
It can be pretty challenging task for any dentists to address the fears of different patients. As we know, different patients have different mindsets about getting dental treatment and therefore, the dentist should work out more commonly appealing strategies.
One of the most effective and widely appealing ways of alleviating fear and anxiety is making the environment more comfortable. Most of the people get this anxious, scary feeling as soon as they enter the facility. A smart dentist, however, will take all the necessary measures to make the dentist’s office a more comfortable and relaxing place. Adding natural decorations (such as fountains, foliage etc), creating more space, using soothing paintings to decorate etc. are some of such measures. Traditional dentists’ offices are given scarier appearance with the addition of horrific images of oral cancers, gum disease, and dental surgeries. Even before sitting on the dentist’s chair, the patient has enough reasons to worry about.
Discussions with the patients and the consultation work are much better when carried out away from the dental chair. Instead of using the dental chair, the dentist can use a separate place to meet with the patients. The meeting room should be a very relaxing and soothing place and the patient will feel more comfortable.
The purpose of all these methods is to let the patients feel that they have the control of the procedure. Well, here are some important yet easy-to-implement steps an experienced, professional and more practical dentist will follow and let the patients feel control over their own procedure.
Inform the patient about the upcoming experiences with the approximate duration (however, the dentist must use a very gentle and tactful manner to do this in a more appealing way)
Always talk to the patient about the next treatment procedures in the form of asking permission
Give the patient the fullest liberty in deciding whether the procedure should be discontinued
Willingness to give intermittent breaks whenever the patient wants them
To adhere to the above steps, the dentist must have enough patience and unfortunately, a considerable number of dentists lack that characteristic. Therefore, as a patient, when you are looking for a good dentist, it is always important to open up yourself and explain your fears to the dentist and see if they are willing to support you during the treatments.
How can a patient address the fear?
As we believe, the experience at a dentist’s office might not be that painful. Most of the patients have the assumption of pain and that prevents them from being comfortable during the treatments. When you sit in the dental chair filled with anxiety and fear, even the slightest pain would feel more intense. Well, here are some of the tips that can help you alleviate this fear.
Be sure to take someone with you at least for the first visit to the dentist. Select someone who is confident enough to help you, love you and care you. Friends and relatives are the best in this case.
You may listen to your favorite music during the time of the treatment (if wearing earphones doesn’t disturb your treatment process). This is a good distraction.
Be sure to breathe deeply and relax without letting fear conquer you. Focus on the air you inhale and exhale and that might prevent you from being too excited.
Ask for IV sedation if you are sensitive to slightest pains. However, you must be sure that your dentist is actually qualified to perform such sedation. A sedative usually applied to help you feel more relaxed and comfortable.
Always think of the greater good. The treatment you receive is for the betterment of your oral health; the more you stay away from your dentist, the more serious the issues you may have to face.
The bottom line is this: receiving timely dental care is exceptionally important for your overall well-being. Therefore, it is important to hold your nerve and realize the truth; after all, it is completely OK to sacrifice a bit of your comfort in order to gain long lasting, better dental health.
ABOUT THE OFFICE
Dr. Smile is in the Los Angeles South Bay area, serving patients from El Segundo, Inglewood, Del Air, those around the LAX airport, and nearby areas. Dr. Hossein Javid is the lead dentist at this office. Dr. Javid has spent his career developing expertise in a number of areas, including dental implantation and the use of high-tech lasers and other equipment. He is the founder of our dental center, and his vision has helped us become a premier provider of world-class dental services.