We understand how hard it can be to overcome fears and anxieties. Whether founded in reality or in ideas of what the feared entity is like, personal sources of unease have profound effects on our lives and activities. Fear of the dentist is no different. About 9-15% of Americans actually find their dental anxiety preventing them from scheduling regular exams. Without those preventive exams, teeth are more likely to develop cavities – meaning that invasive procedure are necessary to repair them. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that we hope to help our patients break for good.
Dental Phobia Vs. Dental Anxiety
While 30-40 million Americans find their dental anxiety so pervasive that they put off treatment, a much larger number of patients experience some form of nerves when presented with the dentist’s office. Those nerves may not be enough to cause them to cancel exams, but they taint the dental experience. Understanding your level of dental fear will help you understand the right steps to take in assuaging it.
- Dental anxiety – Anxiety is the reaction to an unknown danger or stress. You may not be able to pinpoint the source of your anxiety, but you know that visits to the dental office don’t make you feel good. Anxiety is easier to tame, and you can begin taking steps toward feeling more comfortable.
- Dental fear – A fear is a reaction to an acknowledged stressor. You know that what makes you feel anxious about the dentist is the threat of discomfort, the feeling of vulnerability, the sights and sounds of dental tools, or some other aspect of the office. Once you’re aware of your source of anxiety, we can help you move toward a place of acceptance.
- Dental phobia – A phobia is a disproportionally strong fear. The level of anxiety tends to be much greater that the danger actually posed by the feared entity. Phobias are harder to manage, and may require some kind of counseling.
Relieving Your Fear of the Dentist
Our Maryland Family Dentistry team strives to make patients comfortable with every step of treatment. We are always ready to discuss your feelings about your dental visits, and help identify steps that could help you feel better. Our end goal is for every one of your appointments and procedures to be pleasant. That’s not an impossibility! Let us help you transform your dental experience.
Begin by working through the following steps:
- Identify sources of anxiety – If you know you’re scared of the dentist’s office, but not sure why, it’s time to do some emotional digging. Chances are, there was a negative experience along the way (or one you heard about from a friend or family member) that shaped your dental attitude. Pop culture also tends to sway patients in a certain direction – when was the last time you saw a nice, comforting depiction of a dentist in TV or film? Separate memories and ideas from the reality to start feeling more at ease.
- Communicate with your dentist – We want to help you feel better, and are always available to talk about the steps of an upcoming procedure. Let us know what makes you feel nervous, and we will talk you through the process.
- Seek appropriate treatments – Certain procedures may be friendlier to your anxiety than others. Choose less invasive procedures if possible.
- Choose sedation dentistry – Dental sedation prevents you from feeling the same levels of anxiety, and allow you to relax in the dental chair. Talk to our staff about using sedation during your next appointment.
Feeling better already? Take the next step by getting in touch with our office to voice your concerns. We can help you feel great about your next visit!