For many people the idea of going to the dentist strikes fear in their hearts. I often hear patients apologize for hating to come to the dentist and I always reply, I know, I feel the same way. It is true, I am a dentist and an anxious dental patient. This post is about exploring the reasons people dislike the dental office and what we can do to help get over this fear. Unfortunately, the result of avoiding the dental office over long periods of time can lead to complex oral health issues and more dental procedures becoming necessary. Most people that dislike the dentist list one of the following reasons:
1. I am afraid it will hurt.
2. I feel like I am not in control of what is happening and I don't know what is going to happen.
3. I have had a terrible experience in the past.
4. I just hate the noise of the instruments.
5. The mask, the tools, the chairs are scary and intimidating.
6. I gag terribly.
7. I am afraid the dentist is going to judge or lecture me about the condition of my mouth.
We often explain to patients that they are in control when they are in the dental chair. We cannot work unless they allow us to work. We encourage patients to raise their hand if they ever need us to stop for any reason- even if they just need a little break. Procedures and instruments used can be fully explained prior to starting any procedure for those that want more information. We have demonstration materials that can be used outside of your mouth so that you clearly understand what we will be doing and ask any questions before we start.
A dentist should never make you feel ashamed of your mouth. Choose a dentist that is compassionate. The past is the past and all we can really deal with is the present.
Instrument noise is often a complaint. We encourage patients to bring their own music or a book to listen to during the procedure. This can help to distract from what is going on inside of your mouth.
Dental tools can often look intimidating. We feature massaging chairs to help the chair seem more friendly. Ask to have tools out of site if they trigger your anxiety. Ask to have anything that is unknown explained.
Unfortunately, for some patients the above techniques are not enough to help ease anxiety. Nitrous oxide (commonly called laughing gas) can be a great way to help.
For those that need further help we offer conscious sedation. You will be awake and able to follow instructions but will likely remember very little of your appointment and be very relaxed. Ask us for more information about how we can help! There is help available and you are not alone.