Are you a dental scaredy-cat?

Are You a Dental Scaredy-Cat? 

Dental phobia is a serious, often paralyzing fear of seeking dental care.  It has been reported that 50% of Americans do not seek regular dental care.  An estimated 15% of all Americans avoid much needed care due to anxiety and fear surrounding the dental experience.  This means an estimated 30 – 40 Million people are so afraid of the dentist that they avoid it all together.  So if you are a dental scaredy-cat, you are not alone.  Although you are not alone, you can overcome this fear.

First ask yourself, why am I anxious and what am I afraid of.  People develop anxieties and phobias for many reasons.  The most common are pain, loss of control or feeling of helplessness, embarrassment (this is a big one), and negative past experiences.  Once you know the root of your fear make a list of things that would help you feel more comfortable while in the dental chair.  For example, if you have a fear due to loss of control, empowering yourself with knowledge works very well.  Ask the dentist and hygienist to explain and describe to you all procedures before and as the procedure is being done.  By doing this, you will not only feel in control because you will know exactly what is going on, it also builds up your trust in your dental professionals.

Never be embarrassed.  First, get it off your chest and tell your hygienist you are embarrassed because of your neglect and present condition of your teeth.  This will immediately make you feel better if you are in a caring relationship-building dental practice.  If you do not get the support you need, look for a new dental office.  Remember you are not the only person that has neglected their teeth, and we as dental professionals are just glad you are here seeking treatment.

So you had a negative past dental experience.  This also tags along with the top reason people avoid the dentist – PAIN! Good news for you dentistry has changed a lot in the past few years.  With the use of lasers, drilling can be eliminated in some cases.  Local anesthetic techniques can then make getting numb painless.  And if you are still a little nervous nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and conscious sedation may be just what you need.  With these two methods you can have pain-free and anxiety-free dental visitAsk your dentist about nitrous oxide and conscious sedation.

One last technique that can help everyone is deep breathing exercisesDeep breathing is exactly what is says; take big deep breaths through your nose, and exhale also through you nose.  Concentrate on your deep breathing and this will naturally help you relax.  End Note; Relax, Ask Questions, Express your Fear, Never be Embarrassed, and Ask about all your Pain-Free Options.  Schedule an appointment today, and have a great Dental Visit.

Heather Metzler RDH

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