We at Family, Implant, and Cosmetic Dentistry truly understand the anxiety associated with visiting the dentist. Whether it be for a regular checkup, a cleaning procedure, or to get a problem assessed like a cavity or chipped tooth, most individuals will make the visit, even if they prefer not to. However, for some individuals, misconceptions about the dentist cause people to experience “dentist anxiety”, which can result in them avoiding the dentist for long periods of time. This can result in costly repairs and extreme oral hygiene issues in the long run, as small problems become larger ones when unattended. In this article, we are going to explore some of the common misconceptions that individuals have, and some methods for combating dentist anxiety.
What Is Dental Anxiety and What Misconceptions Contribute To It?
Individuals who experience exaggerated, unfounded worries, or feel uneasy when going to the dentist, are known to have dental anxiety. Those with dental phobia will experience an intense fear or dread and can appear terrified of going to the dentist. Those who experience the latter will have a higher risk of dental issues such as receding gums, tooth loss, damaged teeth, and discoloration. Some common misconceptions that can contribute to dental anxiety and phobia include the following.
- A Fear of Pain. This type of fear is quite common, however, going to the dentist doesn’t have to be painful. Modern procedures such as crowns, fillings, extractions, and even root canals use anesthetic, so you end up not feeling anything at all. As long as you follow the dentist’s instructions afterwards, you should have little to no discomfort.
- A Fear of the Dentist Itself. Before going into an appointment or booking an appointment, get to know the dentist a little bit and explain to them why you tend to fear dentists. They should be able to give you some background information on themselves, explain a little bit about their practice, and make you feel comfortable. Make them aware so they can help!
- A Fear of the Tools Used. The sounds of the tools can be terrifying for some individuals. To get over this, either use a distraction or familiarize yourself with the tools through exposure. Your dentist may even let you hold the equipment and explain how they work. If this doesn’t work, you could always use music to help drown out the sound which has been shown to help many who are fearful.
- A Fear of Judgment. Those who may not floss every day or even clean their teeth twice a day may find themselves nervous about going to the dentist for fear of judgment. However, dentists are not there to judge you, they are there to improve and maintain healthy teeth and gums. No need to be embarrassed but if you are, simply talk to them about your situation. Chances are, they’ve seen a lot worse!
- It Is Too Expensive To Go. Regular checkups, although may cost you quite a bit if you do not have insurance, are still considerably cheaper than expensive repairs such as extractions, root canals, and tooth replacement procedures. If you maintain your oral health then there isn’t much for the dentist to do besides your routine exams and cleanings. This is the best way to avoid the dentist and the bigger procedures.
So How Does One Overcome and Combat These Fears and Misconceptions?
- Consider Sedation As An Option. This is an excellent option for those who have dental phobia and are unable to get into a dentist’s office at all. At Family, Implant, and Cosmetic Dentistry, we provide sedation options for all of our patients. Being sedated during a treatment or procedure will allow you to get the dental work done without being conscious to feel terrified or anxious. Other options include anesthesia or nitrous oxide to help calm the nerves down.
- Consider Using Movies and Television as a Distraction. Ask your dentist about putting on a television so that you can watch your favorite movie or television show during the procedure. This can take your mind off of what is happening during the treatment and keep you focused on something more positive.
- Talk to Your Dentist About The Anxiety. Although a lot of individuals feel uncomfortable talking to their dentist one-on-one, it is important to remember that they were once a patient too, and will be able to relate to bad experiences that you may have had in the past. At Family, Implant, and Cosmetic Dentistry, one of our dentists will be glad to speak with you about your procedure and the process involved so you feel comfortable from the time you arrive.
- Use Your Hands to Communicate During the Procedure. A lot of fear stems from feeling like you are unable to communicate with your dentist during the procedure or are unable to stop it. One way to negate this fear is by using your hands to communicate pain, discomfort, and anxiousness.
If you are too anxious or the fear is keeping you from scheduling an appointment with a dentist, PLEASE don’t wait any longer! The long term, negative effects are too big! Give us a call today to schedule your visit!