Fear of dentistry is a common problem, maybe more than most people realize. Some surveys estimate that, worldwide, anywhere from 13% to 24% people struggle with it. In the U.S., an estimated 75% of adults have some level of fear associated with dental visits. Of those, 5 – 10% can be categorized as dental phobics, adults who are so fearful of dentistry that they avoid treatment until pain forces them to seek care.
For most who deal with dental fear, however, it is manageable. Once the individual has found a dentist he or she trusts, many relax. A few other things can help fearful patients get through their dental visits without a white-knuckled grip on the treatment chair. These include:
• Soothing Office Environment: When a dental office doesn’t have a look, feel or smell of a dental office, it can relax anxious patients from the get-go. For example, our Reception Area features a beverage bar and wide screen monitor of beautiful nature videos set to soothing music. We’ve had many patients comment on the relaxing sensation they get from watching and listening to these clips.
• Well-managed Appointments: A long wait in a reception area can cause anxiety to build up. We want your brief wait to be a “catch your breath” opportunity, allowing you to relax. Our goal is to ensure our patients feel they are a priority from arrival through check-out. This is why we are so committed to seeing patients within 10 minutes of their appointed time. In some instances, emergencies or unpredictable situations can cause delays. However, we try to keep the waiting patient informed when this occurs to prevent anxiety from building.
• Relaxing Distractions: When patients listen to music or watch a movie, their focus is often taken off the treatment they’re receiving. For fearful patients, this can help. As you are being seated in the treatment chair, ask about music and video choices. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at our vast inventory of selections!
• Good Communication: While some patients prefer to be distracted from what’s taking place in their mouths, others feel more confident knowing each step. Before, during and even after a procedure, we keep patients informed of what we are doing so they feel a sense of control. During this process, we may also use monitors to show images of areas being treated and to explain the treatment’s advantages.
• Oral Sedation: Some patients prefer the added relaxation of Oral Sedation. This deep relaxation aid is in pill form and takes effect even before the patient arrives. Although the patient can walk to the chair and is not ‘officially’ asleep, Oral Sedation does provide a dozing state throughout treatment. Recovery is quick and most people have little or no memory of the procedure after.
• I.V. Sedation (Twilight Sleep): We have certain patients who wish to be “put under” for certain dental procedures. For these, we recommend I.V. Sedation, or “twilight sleep.” This is a deeper sleep-state of sedation that is administered in the vein by a trained professional. As patients snooze, the procedure is completed while they are carefully monitored by trained staff and safety equipment throughout (as with Oral Sedation as well). I.V. Sedation typically erases all memory of the procedure after but does require more recovery time than for Oral Sedation.
• Committed Team: Our entire office – from the administrative team to the clinical staff to the doctors who administer your procedures – are all ONE when it comes to creating a welcoming, respectful and compassionate environment for patients, especially those who have dental fears. We understand that these fears may be the result of an unfortunate experience in another dental office. However, some people cannot pinpoint why these fears exist, they just know they are there.
Our unified goal is to have patients smiling as they enter our front door and smiling as they leave. We know that, even for patients who have dental fears, your dental visit can be a positive experience. We also know, however, that we must first get you in the door so you can experience that!
Begin with a friendly conversation with our phone staff by calling 586-739-2155. Then, ask for a no-cost, no obligation consultation. During this, we’ll relax in comfy chairs in a private consultation room that is removed from the clinical side of the office. You can share your concerns and ask questions, which I’ll answer thoroughly.
If you’re too uneasy about coming in for a consultation, ask for a phone consultation. We can discuss your needs over the phone and you can determine when a personal visit is the next step. If you like, we can also put you in touch with several patients who, like you, once had dental fears and now enjoy healthy smiles. Hearing from someone who has ‘been there, done that’ can often help.
Don’t let imagined complications keep you from achieving the smile you desire. Imagine your life with a healthy, attractive smile. With our help, we believe you can achieve your goal while getting dental fears behind you!