Anyone who is afraid of going to the dentist is in good company. It has been estimated that as many as one in five Americans avoid caring for their teeth due to fear associated with dentistry. Beyond simple anxiety, many individuals suffer from dental phobia, a condition that can leave them stricken with panic and even unable to sleep. Although every one of them can be countered by the facts, these are five common reasons why someone may fear going to the dentist:
Fear of pain.
This fear may be based on some early experience with dentistry or medicine in general, or may be based on concepts formed by the media. Modern dental procedures usually result in only minor discomfort, and are often painless.
Fear of dental injections, including the psychological aspects of having a needle inserted into one’s gums.
Patients should realize that it is the injection that takes the pain out of the dental procedure. The injection itself is virtually painless, and the entire process will be over in seconds.
Fear of the effects of the anesthesia.
Patients should understand that dental anesthetics are localized, and only on rare occasions will they result in dizziness or other complications. The numbness or sense of a “fat lip” caused by the anesthesia may seem strange, but has no lasting effects.
Fear of a loss of control of the situation.
Patients may feel a sense of helplessness when they sit in a dental chair with their mouths open, unable to see or know what is going on. The key to dealing with this fear is having a discussion with the dentist before the procedure is begun. The dentist may suggest the use by the patient of hand signals to indicate any discomfort.
Fear of the loss of privacy that is usually associated with dental procedures.
Dentists are quite accustomed to bad breath and crooked or stained teeth, and know how to deal with these issues. The use of such equipment as the BLOXR apron, which can be worn by dental assistants, can help assure proper hygiene.
Everyone needs dental care, and those who don’t seek it expose themselves to serious teeth and gum disorders and other health conditions. It’s important for those who are afraid of dentists to realize that their fears are usually irrational, and that going to the dentist is one way to avoid the pain that can become very real.