Afraid Of Dental Visits? Fear Only Makes Problems Worse.

Posted on Dec 14, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Fear is one of the biggest factors when it comes to reasons that people avoid dental care. While expenses are an issue for a number of Americans, fear is the culprit that prevents most adults in the U.S. (up to one-third, it is estimated), from having regular dental care.

Avoiding the dentist is a sure way for bigger problems. When the hygienist is not able to remove plaque that has accumulated on teeth every six months, it continues to grow. This typically results in cavities and early stage periodontal (gum) disease.

Repairing a small cavity or treating gingivitis (the initial level of gum disease) requires minimal time and expense. However, many individuals who have dental fear avoid going to the dentist for years. Often, they only end up in a dental chair when they have developed a problem that is so painful they are forced to endure fear’s grip in lieu of pain relief.

When cavities form, pain (or an ache) develops, signaling a problem. Most people realize that this discomfort will only intensify without treatment. On the other hand, gum disease begins without obvious symptoms. Those that do arise, such as gums that bleed when brushing or receded gums, are often associated with aging or even deemed normal. These misconceptions merely allow these problems to worsen.

Here is where things get more complicated for adults with dental fear. When problems do arise, delayed treatment enables these problems to worsen. As a cavity deepens or gum disease intensifies, treatment requirements become more complex with procedures needed often more costly and time-consuming. Unfortunately, post-treatment tenderness is also a lengthier process. This tends to reinforce a fearful patient’s stance of avoiding dental care.

When I take my car in for its regular servicing, I have to devote several hours of time and be prepared for associated expenses. Oil changes, tire rotations, fluid checks, etc. aren’t anything I want to pay for and, like most adults, have little time to devote while these processes take place. However, I know the problems that can occur when these areas are not tended to. I also know that, by delaying them, I’m placing myself at risk for being stranded beside the road or having an accident. So, we car owners force ourselves to endure for the good of our investment.

Your smile deserves no less. If dental fears are preventing you from having a clean, healthy smile and fresh breath, don’t wait until you are in dire straits. Make every attempt to keep your 6-month dental check-ups. These visits will be quicker and far less expensive than to take care of what’s likely coming from avoiding care.

Want an added incentive to go along with cost savings and shorter time? Dental cleanings and repairs are more comfortable for people with healthy gums. When plaque is present, the gums are more inflamed. This makes them tender. Regular dental visits will keep your smile in good health and save you money over time.

So, how do you overcome dental fears to have regular care? It begins by finding the right dentist to care for your needs. Begin by calling several offices and explain your concerns. If the receptionist is adept at discussing their protocol for fearful patients, you’ll know this is a dental office that is experienced caring for adults with high anxiety and fear levels.

You may wish to begin with a consultation appointment. This will enable you and the dentist to discuss your needs and their process to help ease you through what is necessary to begin. The doctor should make you feel at ease, unrushed and answer your questions in easy-to-understand terms.

We see a number of patients who have gum disease or need Dental Implants because their fears have led to lost teeth. While we can provide medications to help these patients relax, our goal is to help them overcome their fears through a relationship of trust. Once they understand we are highly sensitive to the unique needs of patients with dental fear, many relax. We pride ourselves on a gentle touch, and that goes for all patients.

Let’s begin with a conversation in our consultation room. This is a living room setting that’s away from the clinical area. We can sit and chat, after which time you can determine how you’d like to proceed, or if you would like to do so. Call 828-274-9440 to arrange a time that’s best for you.

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