Dental Fear Can Lead To Lost Teeth.

Posted on Jan 23, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

There are many reasons that adults lose teeth. Poor oral hygiene, accidents and gum disease can all result in the loss of natural teeth. Yet, the most unfortunate reason, as far as I’m concerned, is dental fear.

Having a fear of dental visits affects over 70 percent of American adults by some estimates. When people are afraid of going to the dentist, they often do not receive the regular care necessary to maintain a healthy smile.

While twice daily brushing and daily flossing are beneficial in having healthy teeth and gums, those 6-month checkups provide a ‘clean slate,’ of sorts. During these visits, the hygienist is able to remove tartar (or calculus) that has built up from accumulated plaque.

Tartar is actually a hardened mass of oral bacteria that attaches to teeth. It eats away at healthy tooth enamel and gum tissues. As the bacteria mass thrives and reproduces, the gum tissues become inflamed. This is the beginning of periodontal disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

In one study published by the Dental Research Journal, nearly 59 percent of 473 adult participants were found to have dental fears. The study included males and females of varying ages and education levels. Although females presented a higher likelihood for dental fear, there was very little difference elsewhere. What did stand out, however, was how many had experienced traumatic dental episodes. (

As a periodontal specialist, I have advanced training and experience in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants. Thus, over the years, I have treated a large number of adults who have lost natural teeth and wisely chose to replace them with dental implants.

However, when an individual loses a tooth (or teeth) because they avoided dental care due to fear, it’s a pretty big task for many to set those same fears aside in order to go through a dental procedure that is surgical in nature. So, how do they do this?

In our office, we have found the best results for fearful patients is to form a relationship that is built on trust. Our patients come to feel assured of knowing our commitment is to create a pain-free environment, with oral or I.V. sedation (‘twilight sleep’) available, if desired.

For some patients, they feel more relaxed after beginning with a conversation in our consultation room. This room is removed from the clinical side of the practice where we sit in comfy chairs and discuss specific needs and goals. We take the time to answer questions thoroughly and can recommend comfort options.

For most, after their first appointment, they feel more relaxed. Others need several visits to realize that dentistry doesn’t have to hurt. Still others can’t help but have anxiety during their dental care and we understand this. Every person is different and we try to tailor the pace and the comfort options according to each one’s need.

If you’ve lost teeth because you’ve found it difficult to have regular dental care, the solution may be as close as our consultation room. We will make this visit as relaxed as possible so you can decide if we are the right dental team for you.

It may also be helpful to speak with some of our once-fearful patients who now have healthy, confident smiles. Ask to be put in touch with some during your consultation to have a ‘first-hand’ understanding from people with similar issues.

Call 828-274-9440 to schedule a consultation.


Recent Posts