Dental anxiety is a the fear of dentistry in general or of receiving dental care specifically. It’s more common in people who have suffered a great deal of trouble with their teeth, people who have lived in places or times with more primitive dentistry, or in small children, but modern dentistry and the complete care focus of dentists today should make it a less commonly occurring phenomenon over time. Currently it’s estimated that between 9 and 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of fear.
The fact is, armed with a certain amount of knowledge and ingrained good habits, taking good care of your teeth has never been simpler or more pain-free; therefore, going to the dentist shouldn’t be something to be afraid of. However, for some individuals sitting in the dentist’s chair triggers some strong emotions. Why? There are a number of reasons.
- Fear of pain
- Fear of needles
- Fear of anesthesia
- Feeling out of control
- Feeling embarrassed
While it is still true that dentists drill and remove teeth in order to address a variety of dental problems, current dental practices are a lifetime away from foot-pedaled drills with no pain management. Anesthesia as it is administered in the office is safe and works to eliminate pain. It’s not even just administered by needle these days. New technology is giving dental staff a number of new options that bypass needles, whole mouth numbness, and limit the amount of anesthesia necessary.
The feelings that some patients have of being watched and prodded or feeling exposed and embarrassed can be dealt with as well. Just as there are a number of reasons behind this type of fear, there are a number of ways that adults can manage their fear or help their children to. It’s always important to establish an open and communicative relationship with your dental staff, but for those with fears, learning as much as possible about a specific dental procedure can help a lot. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist to fully explain what the procedure is before they perform it and how they go about making their patients feel safe and cared for during those procedures. Talking about fears and getting information is a crucial way to manage them as they often feed on the unknown and unpredicted.
If you or your child is experiencing a problem with dental anxiety, please let Dental Associates of West Michigan know before your visit so that our trained staff can be aware and ready to help you allay that fear. Our dentists and dental hygienists can discuss with you how best to provide you with the dental care you need in the most appropriate way possible. Don’t let fear stop you from having a bright, healthy smile.