Paralyzing fear is a common reason why millions of people don’t go to the dentist office on a regular basis like they should. This can cause many problems that were otherwise preventable, had they made their semi-annual visits to their dentist. These fears stem from anything from a bad experience to a downright dread of medical procedures in the first place. However, this can lead to massive problems such as toothaches, infections, gum disease, and in extreme cases even rotten/decaying teeth. These problems can get very serious when periodontitis gets into the gum line and possible even into the blood stream which can spread the infection to the rest of the body. The illnesses caused by this can include things like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes to name a few.
About to 5% to 8% of all Americans avoid the dentists’ office at all costs out of fear of what may happen during a visit. About 20% of Americans will only go when it’s absolutely vital and necessary. These reasons for them being this way can vary from bad past experiences at the dentists to other problems or disorders. These other disorders can include things like general fears/phobias of the dentists to anxiety disorders, being victims of PTSD, veterans who have experienced traumatic events, and/or people who have been victims of physical/sexual abuse in the past. The good news, however, is that there are special dental offices that cater just to these types of needs for people who have experienced these traumas in the past.
Many dentists don’t possess the patients or desire to work with patients who are nervous or even outright scared or terrified. Many others just want to get the work done and turn through patients quickly as possible. These are not the dentists to use if you have fears of phobias of the dentist, or have experienced past traumas in the dental chair. Seek a kinder, more carking dentist to help with your needs. The good news is, that there are plenty out there.
Look for a dentist that is willing to work with you, and that is willing to create an environment where you are comfortable. Many dentists are now moving towards having atmospheres that are not “dental like” in feeling, but rather the patient feels like the are in nature or another soothing place rather than a medical office. Many dentists have turned away from scrubs to business causal or suits/ties to get rid of that “doctor-y” feeling. Dentists who work with patients who have fears and phobias also are willing to accommodate the patient’s needs in simple “extra” ways. Oftentimes, speaking to a patient in their office is the best way to go about preparing them for what to expect before moving to the dental exam room. Frequently asking for permission to continue the procedure allows the patient to feel in control of what is being done to them, and how long it will last. Sometimes scheduling multiple appointments and doing things in smaller phases helps. For example, cleaning the top teeth one week and the bottom ones the next to lessen the length of the stay in the dental chair. Allow the patient to have a cue if they need the dentist to stop treatment, and allow them time to relax and breathe. Also, allow the patient many breaks as they need throughout a treatment to feel comfortable continuing the procedure.
Patients often find that after the procedure is done it was not nearly as painful as they imagined it would be. People realize that the fear was mostly a mental condition, but getting over that initial hurdle can be a challenge for many people. For those who have the most fear taking something to distract yourself while in the chair can help. New music to listen to. A relative to sit with and comfort you (preferably one who has no fear of dentists). A TV provided in the room to watch a show/sitcom/news network/etc. Something to take your mind off the procedure tends to work best.
Also, always seek a dentist you feel comfortable with. There are many dentists who claim to cater to the terrified populations who need dental work, but some are better at it than others. Once you find someone you are comfortable with it becomes much easier to get treatment. Stick with that dentist, and appreciate their willingness to help you stay healthy and happy.
If you have a fear of going to the dentist, give us the chance to help you with that. Please contact us or call us at 909-465-1016.
The Ramona Dentistry Team
“Where Family Comes First”