I know someone who nearly drowned as a youth. It’s a feeling that has never left him and has since invoked a sense of fear every time he’s in the water. Although he’s a strong swimmer now, he feels there will always be lingering emotions from that traumatic event.
Fear is a reaction we experience that warns us of danger. Like shivering in the cold, it’s not something we can necessarily control. So when we have a new patient who shares that they are “scared” of dental visits and haven’t seen a dentist in years because they’ve been “too afraid,” we understand.
See actual patients share their experiences in our office at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=qDQoa4Fpn78
Hearing people tell us they have fear or anxiety associated with dental visits is not uncommon. According to a 2014 survey shared by the American Dental Association, 22 percent of American adults reported that they avoided dental care due to fear.
It has been estimated that up to 75 percent of adults experience some level of anxiety or fear when it comes to going to a dentist. Of those, an estimated 5 – 10 percent are categorized as dental phobics.
Dental phobics are people who have such intense fears that the mere thought of calling a dentist or going in their front door causes reactions. For these individuals, they may break out in a sweat, have a more rapid heartbeat, or even cry – even before arriving at the dentist.
Some patients aren’t sure what triggered their fears in the first place. Others may recall a painful experience in a dentist’s chair in the past. Some react to certain smells or sounds. However, for those who have an intense fear of dentistry, the reaction can be so strong that it can evoke sensations of pain even before they’ve been touched.
As powerful as this fear can be, there are solid reasons to address it sooner than later. Not only is the health and appearance of your smile at risk, your overall health could be harmed as well.
For decades, researchers have studied the unique strain of bacteria that exists in the mouth. Like any bacteria in the body, when oral bacteria amass beyond a manageable level, they can cause infection. However, the particular type of bacteria found in periodontal disease has garnered much attention lately.
It has long been known that oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream through gum tissues that are weakened by gum disease. Once bloodborne, it has been found to trigger inflammatory reactions elsewhere in the body. This inflammation has been associated with a long list of serious health problems.
Research has found links between this potent oral bacteria and heart disease, stroke, preterm babies, some cancers, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, impotency, erectile dysfunction (ED), and even Alzheimer’s disease.
These are all reasons enough to pursue seeing a dentist, of course. Yet, the confidence of a healthy, appealing smile is what is most pressing in the minds of people who finally enter our doors.
The ability to smile and FEEL good about a smile has much to do with how we feel about ourselves. Studies have shown that the mere act of smiling improves our mood. And, people who smile often are believed to have a longer life expectancy!
An article in the NY Times also shared how a ‘sincere’ smile has an impact on lifespan. For people who smile with their eyes, one study showed a 7 year boost to lifetimes versus non-smilers! (http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/cheese-putting-happy-face-live-longer-article-1.3014375)
Of course, appearance is also important. We all want to feel our smile complements our face and projects our inner-selves as vibrant, beautiful people. This adds to self-esteem, self-confidence, and comfort in being close with others.
To help people relax and move through dentistry, some offices offer sedation and various methods, such as gas or medications. However, we believe that truly conquering your fear begins with a trusting relationship between you and your dentist.
Our friendly staff members are experienced in helping fearful patients as well. As I mentioned prior, dental fear is not uncommon. Providing the right environment for fearful individuals can be a particular challenge for some offices. However, from our success with formerly-fearful patients, we feel we’ve created a setting that is both appropriate and reassuring that addresses all levels of dental fear.
Not ready to talk yet? Tap here to learn where we are and then either call or email to share your concerns. Email us at: email@example.com, to ask questions prior to calling, if preferred.
Typically, all patients begin with a friendly conversation that takes place in our consultation room. During this visit, we will not seat you in a treatment room or treatment chair. Your consult will take place in a private room that is away from the clinical suites. We will sit in comfy arm chairs and discuss your particular needs.
I’ll also explain options available to help you relax and recommendations to move you through care at a pace that feels right. From there, you can determine if you are ready to move forward.
Let us help you achieve the excellent oral health and beautiful smile you want while overcoming your dental fears. This will help you to be more focused on the terrific smile you have than the worries that prevented you from it!