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Annette Scott, DDS, PC
Dental Anxiety and Fear
Annette E. Scott, DDS, PC
. http://www.scottdentalcare.com/

Dental Anxiety and Fear

The overwhelming fear of dental appointments can be a common cause of anxiety.   Actually, the comfort, relaxation, and happiness of the patient are the primary focus of any good dental practice.   I often ask my patients, “What’s your fear factor?”

Here is a list of some of the most common dental fears:

• Fear of pain or not getting numb enough.

• Fear of gagging/drowning.

• Fear of needles.

• Fear of loss of control (Can I say Stop?).

• Fear of the dentist as a person.

• Fear of the equipment (the drill, the light, noises,  & smells).

• Fear of embarrassment about the condition of teeth.

• Fear or Concern about not being listened to or getting want you want.

• Can I afford this?

How can one overcome
dental anxiety?

Dental anxiety and fear can become completely overwhelming.  It is estimated that as many as 35 million people do not visit the dental office at all because they are too afraid.    Having regular routine check-ups is the easiest way to maintain excellent oral hygiene and reduce the need for more complex treatments.

Here are some tips to help reduce dental fear and anxiety:

No Treatment Appointment – It can be hard to talk about fears with a stranger.  It’s even harder to jump into a “cleaning” or a “filling” when you have dental fears.   So, call in and schedule just an exam and check up. Your dental professional can go over your findings, recommend the treatment that is right for you and discuss your concerns.   Take the extra time during your first visit to make sure your fears and anxiety are well communicated.

Bring Your Music – Music acts as a relaxant and also drowns out any fear-producing noises.  Listening to calming music throughout the appointment will help to reduce anxiety.

Agree on a signal – Many people are afraid that the dentist will not know they are in significant pain during the appointment and will continue with the procedure regardless.  The best way to solve this problem is to agree on a “stop” hand signal.  Both parties can easily understand signals like raising the hand or tapping on the chair.

Ask Questions before your appointment begins – Not being able to see what is happening can increase anxiety and make the imagination run wild.   Ask for a review of the procedure before you start.  Clarify all questions before you begin your procedure.

Sedation – a.k.a. Light, Twilight, and Sleep Dentistry – There are several types of sedation:  nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral conscious sedation and IV sedation.  Sedation is excellent for reducing dental fears. The general premise behind them is the same: the patient regains their faculties after treatment is complete. If there is no other way to cope, sedation offers an excellent option for many people. 

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