Dental Fear?

Posted on Jun 25, 2015 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

It’s not surprising that the percentage of American adults with some level of dental fear (estimated at 75%) nearly parallels the percentage of adults ages 65+ who have some level of gum disease (70%), the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

The high number of adults who have dental fear is also likely related to the prevalence of tooth loss in mature adults.  Those born before 1949 have the highest percentage of lost teeth and being totally toothless (25%). Could this be because the 65+ age group endured dentistry in a time when patient comfort was very different than what is expected today?

Most of today’s 35 and under adults have experienced dental care by modern dentists who are more attuned to a patient’s need for comfort. However, for adults in the 65+ age group, a greater number can recall traumatic experiences in the dental chair. These often carry over into adulthood, making a trip to the dentist overshadowed by the perception of pain.

Dental fear deters people from having regular dental check-ups. Lack of regular dental care leads to the formation of cavities, gum disease, tooth loss and health risks from oral bacteria, which can trigger systemic inflammation. The bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in diseased gum tissues. The bacteria moves through the body, creating inflammatory reactions have been linked to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, preterm babies and impotency.

For a large percentage of aging adults, dental fear plays a key role in the frequency of dental visits. If fear has kept you from regular dental visits, regardless of your age, you will find the majority of today’s dental environments are highly sensitive to your comfort throughout each visit. Although sedation options are an appealing way for fearful patients, we believe that finding a dentist or dental specialist whom you trust will help you conquer your fears and achieve the smile you desire.

Most patients who have avoided dental care have some level of gum disease. Until your gums are healthy, no dental procedure is going to provide long-term benefits. Begin with a periodontal exam by a specialist in Periodontics. Once your mouth is restored to a healthy state, we can make recommendations to help you with other needs for a confident smile.

Decades of dental fear isn’t going to disappear in a blink of an eye. Getting over it requires a pace you feel is right for you. If preferred, begin with a consultation appointment. Knowing you are empowered to control this pace may help you move through it comfortably.

Call (828) 274-9440 to discuss your needs or to arrange an appointment.

Recent Posts