How long has it been since your last dental appointment? So long you do not even remember? Are you scared to go to the dentist and even the sheer thought of the dental chair makes you shiver with fear? You are not alone!
Dental phobia is a huge problem in the United States. 80% of the Americans admit being afraid of the dentist. It is also reported that 14% of the Americans never get any dental treatment at all because of their dental fear. In the end it is extremely destructive not only to their oral health but also overall body health, as we now know that any inflammation in the mouth can cause other problems in the body. Let’s look at fear of dentist more closely.
Did you know that there are three types of dental fear? Dental anxiety, dental fear and dental phobia. Dental anxiety is just our reaction to unexpected danger. Vast majority of people have at least some form of dental anxiety related to dental visits. This type of fear is caused by experiencing something completely new. Dental fear, on the other hand, is rooted in a previous bad experiences with dentist. It can also stem from various dental horror stories told by tabloids, friends or family. Dental fear is usually experienced when the patient approaches the dental office or sits in the dental chair. The most extreme of all is definitely dental phobia. Patients who suffer from phobia display extreme reactions just to the mention of a dental procedure. Such patients need specialist treatment as they are not able to visit a dental office at all. Other common physical symptoms of dental fear include sleeplessness (the night before the appointment), feeling sick, or actually getting sick while waiting for your visit.
Solution to dental fear
Many mental disorders, and dental phobia is one of them, can be treated if diagnosed correctly. If neglected, it will definitely get worse in the future as the emotional stress rises uncontrollably. One of the reasons of your fear of the dentist can be your lower pain threshold. Therefore you might be in need of a stronger anaesthetic and pain control. And here sedation dentistry or “sleep dentistry” becomes helpful.
In sedation medication is used to make patients relaxed during dental visits and minor surgeries. There are different sedation levels:
- Minimal – you are relaxed but remain fully awake.
- Moderate – you will not remember what happened during the appointment.
- Deep – you are half-asleep, half-awake.
- General anaesthesia – you are unconscious.
Sedation – a great solution to have virtually painless procedures and not to remember anything about your dental appointment. IV sedation (intravenous drug therapy) is most often recommended by professional dentists. This is because it is more predictable, safer and allows to easily control the sedation level. Patients have a choice of being in a deeply relaxed state or to sleep through the entire appointment. This is the perfect option for patients whose teeth need extensive dental work done or for special needs patients.
If you feel it is time to overcome your fear, start today and start with small steps. If you feel the need to talk to other dental patients suffering from dental fear, find a local community support group or a Facebook group. Feeling you are not alone with your problem is crucial to the treatment. Then find a friendly recommended dental clinic which performs IV sedation. Make a phone call and speak to dental nurse or receptionist. Make sure you tell them you are afraid of the dentist. They will be able to understand you and help you better. When you finally decide to have the appointment, ask a trusted friend or family member to go with you. This kind of support is very important. Also you will need somebody to drive you home after the visit. Alternatively, the receptionist may help you book a taxi home to make sure you get there safely. Once you are seated the dental professional will explain what you might feel and what you will have done. A good doctor will even ask you for permission to continue (drilling, for instance). The dentist might ask you to give them a cue, for example lifting your arm, if you feel uncomfortable or need a short break.
Nowadays, modern dentistry is almost pain-free and doctors strive to cause as little pain as possible and keep the procedures as short as possible to lessen the trauma to the tissues. Remember, dentists are there to heal not harm. Other patients have already dealt the fear – you can be one of them! Read Nick’s success story of getting rid of his dental phobia and getting tooth implants. How to do it? Find the best dental clinic for you, complete the form (don’t forget to let us know that you suffer from dental fear) and we will help you find the right clinic for your needs.