The Key to Managing Dental Fear
Did you know that dental fear is so common that nearly 25% of the population suffers from it? Given this fact, there’s absolutely no reason to be ashamed of a dental phobia – and the good news is that many solutions are available!
Research shows that a significant number of people routinely avoid seeing the dentist and in severe cases, a person with dental phobia may never see a dentist.
Others with less severe dental fear may force themselves to go to the dentist, but may not sleep the night before or possibly feel sick in anticipation.
If you suffer from dental fear or dental phobia, read on to find out what can be done to help you.
How serious is your dental phobia?
The amount of fear that people have toward dental treatment can vary widely and is often categorized as either anxiety or phobia.
According to Columbia University College of Dentistry, those with dental anxiety experience a sense of uneasiness or exaggerated worries when it is time for their appointments.
Dental phobia, on the other hand is a more serious condition. It is defined as an intense fear or dread. People with dental phobia are not just anxious, they often describe feelings of panic or dread.
Causes and solutions for dental fear?
There are several reasons that emerge from research on dental phobia. The most common reason is a fear of pain. Notably, this reason is most common for adults over the age of 24. This is likely due to the fact that for people in this age group, early dental visits happened before many of the advances in “pain-free” dentistry that are common practice today.
When it comes to patients who state pain as a main reason for keeping them out of the chair, one solution is the use of topical anesthetics. These are used to numb the soft tissue before local anesthesia is administered – making the dental freezing process nearly un-noticeable.
Other reasons for dental fear include; feelings of helplessness and loss of control, embarrassment and negative past experiences.
To combat feelings of helplessness and loss of control as well as embarrassment, it is very important for a dental professional to communicate effectively. One effective technique created by a Harvard dentist in the 1970s is the tell-show-do technique.
Since creating a comfortable environment and experience for patients is predicated on their perception or understanding of the treatment the dentist is proposing to them, techniques like “tell-show-do,” help the patient visualize the procedure so they are aware of what is happening. It has proven to greatly mitigate dental fear, regardless of the patient’s age or dental history.
For those who have had negative experiences as the dentist or whom suffer from more severe cases of dental fear, there is the option for sedation dentistry, including oral sedation and nitrous oxide (also known as “laughing gas”).
Oral sedatives are taken as pills (also known as “happy pills”), which our dentists typically prescribe to the patient in the consultation visit leading up to the treatment. Oral sedation patients report feeling relaxed and remembering little of the treatment. For many patients, the experience is described as sleeping through the treatment. In reality however, sedation dental patients actually maintain consciousness and are able to follow instructions throughout the treatment.
Nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” is a mild sedative that is widely requested by patients suffering from dental anxiety. Laughing gas is delivered before and during a dental treatment through a small nose-hood. Patients under the effect of nitrous oxide typically report feelings of general well-being. In addition to nitrous oxide delivered by inhalation, pills can also be used to create a similar effect.
Downtown Nanaimo Dental Group is proud to offer every modern solution to dental fear to our patients. Please call to book an appointment with Dr. Mahara today.