Don’t Let Dental Fear Ruin Your Smile

Posted on Nov 24, 2014 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Nearly seventy percent of American adults have some level of anxiety when it comes to going to the dentist. Some even have such high fear levels that they are categorized as dental phobics. These people become so upset at the mere thoughts of dental visits that physical reactions such as breaking out in a sweat or even crying occur.

Some adults who have dental fears aren’t sure of the origins, although others have vivid memories of when these fears began, perhaps of a dentist who failed to get them fully numb and began a procedure despite their pleas.

Today, dentistry has made much progress in comfort options. Additionally, most dentists are more sensitive to fearful patients. Some offices feature options such as topical numbing before injections, headsets with soothing music, and ergonomically designed treatment chairs. These features help to relax patients and make them more comfortable throughout their procedure.

For optimal relaxation, some offices also offer oral sedation while others are also certified and equipped to provide I.V. sedation (“twilight sleep”). For procedures that do not require the sedation depths of I.V. sedation, we recommend oral sedation. Oral sedation provides exceptional relaxation, leaving little or no memory of the procedure afterwards. Oral sedation also has a faster recovery than I.V. sedation and is less expensive.

For patients who prefer a deeper level of sedation, we recommend I.V. sedation. This places patients in a sleep-like state for optimal relaxation. Many fearful patients like its ability to erase memory of the procedure afterward. With both oral and I.V. sedation, numbing is still provided but injections are delivered after the patient is in a totally relaxed state.

Regardless of the comfort option you select, it is important to choose the dentist that is right for you. For some, just making the appointment and getting in the door for the initial visit is a traumatic process. It may be helpful to go to the office after-hours and walk to the front door to become familiar with its location and appearance.

I suggest starting with a consultation so you can meet the dentist and explain your concerns. This will help you determine if the practice is going to be a good fit for your particular needs. Often, fearful patients relax a great deal just from meeting the ‘right doctor.’ I urge you to find one who assures you that your comfort is a priority at all times.

If you have delayed dental care due to fear, the sooner you are seen the more you’ll save in treatment time and expense. Begin with a periodontal consultation to learn how your fears can be overcome so your oral health can be restored to a healthy state. Call (828) 274-9440.

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