Afraid Or Anxious When It Comes To Dental Visits?

added on: December 27, 2022

Like many dentists, the reason I chose this as my career was because of childhood experiences. (View my story at: DrBarbatShares). Fortunately, my dentist was kind, gentle and patient. This helped me to form a positive impression of dentistry. It also reinforced how these visits help to keep teeth healthy so treatment would not be necessary.

However, many people with a fear of dental visits did not have this kind of positive experience as a child. Some were traumatized during treatment, feeling helpless while being pinned down in a dental chair with no say-so as to their comfort. Sadly, these scary memories can follow people into adulthood and become obstacles to having a healthy, confident smile.

Other people cannot pinpoint the origin of their dental fear. They may become anxious about being reclined in a dental chair, or certain sounds or smells.

As a Shelby Township dentist for over 25 years, I’ve always prided myself on a gentle touch and “painless injections,” (as many patients tell me). While I’d like everyone to experience this kind of dental care, I understand the challenge it poses for some. The lingering effects of past dental trauma can rise to the surface and prevent some people from achieving the bright, attractive smile they’ve always desired.

Today’s dental care (in modern dental offices) has evolved over the past several decades. For dental practices who have incorporated advanced technology and techniques and offer sedation options, this commitment is largely to ensure a comfortable experience and reduce time in treatment. Yet, I know there are people who still avoid dental care because they perceive their care will cause them pain. This means that I cannot show them that truly gentle dentistry is available; neither can I help  individuals who are unable to come to our office for care.

How do we help people to get past dental fears to get their smiles to a healthy state? How can we convince fearful individuals that tooth repairs or replacement can be performed without pain being involved in procedures?

I like to ease the embarrassment many adults with dental fear have, assuring them that they are not a minority. According to a 2018 article in Dental Products Report, “one-third of the U.S. population avoids going to the dentist because of dental anxiety or fear.” In this, they share findings from a survey of 18,000 people regarding dentistry.

Sixty-one percent of respondents admitted to dental fear with nearly 4 percent having never seen a dentist. In addition to being afraid of pain, other fear triggers were chemical smells, sound of the drill, fear of being stuck in the dental chair, and feeling afraid of having to keep their mouth open for lengthy periods.

As a dentist with a statewide reputation in Michigan for converting fearful dental patients to patients with healthy smiles, my commitment to comfort goes back decades. For some, we found the availability of oral and I.V. sedation (“sleep dentistry”) was highly beneficial to patients in easing tensions and anxiety.

Oral sedation is in pill form and provides a totally relaxed state. In addition to easing tension and anxiety, oral sedation is helpful for patients with lengthy procedures to avoid feeling fatigued afterwards. Or, some patients prefer to combine the procedures of 2 or 3 appointments into one long appointment, with sedation easing them through the process.

I.V. sedation is a deeper level of sedation, placing the patient in a sleep state, frequently referred to as “twilight sleep.” In this, the patient is unaware of the procedure and has little or no memory of it afterwards. Although recovery takes longer, some patients prefer this level of sedation to help complete procedures they may have otherwise avoided.

With both sedatives, we administer Novocain and begin treatment after the patient is fully numb. Sedated patients are also closely monitored throughout treatment by trained team members who use advanced safety equipment.

Our vast array of advanced technology also helps fearful patients by reducing treatment time, speeding healing, and optimizing treatment outcomes. These features are part of our commitment to help patients enjoy a comfortable, single location that attends to nearly every dental need. Some of the more advanced options include cone beam imaging, laser dentistry, Tek-Scan, BioPak, and a digital scanner. (Learn more about this amazing technology at: DrBarbatTechnology)

Having good oral health is coming to light as an important factor in our overall health. It has become apparent, through years of research, that oral health and overall health are highly integrated. Researchers have noted that the bacteria associated with periodontal (gum) disease can enter the bloodstream, triggering inflammatory reactions throughout the body. For instance, research has found that oral bacteria levels can affect the severity of diabetes, arthritis and Prostatitis (a disease of the prostate).

In addition, these infectious bacteria can activate or worsen other diseases and conditions, with severe (or even deadly) repercussions. These health problems include heart disease, some cancers, stroke, high blood pressure, preterm babies, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Gum disease is also a drain on the body’s immune system, leaving people more vulnerable to illness.

As a Macomb County dentist, my biggest joy is knowing many of our formerly-fearful patients no longer need sedation, feeling confident in our hands and able to relax without the need for a sleep-like state.

Don’t let a traumatic episode in your past hold you back from the smile you desire. Begin by downloading our “Guide For The Fearful Dental Patient.” This will hopefully help you take that first step by calling our friendly front office staff at: 586-739-2155. You’ll be treated kindly and respectfully. Or, tap here to schedule a private, no-charge consultation. During this time, I’ll answer your questions and explain ways we can help you achieve the fabulous smile you’ve always desired!

Remember, dental fear is nothing to be ashamed of or too embarrassing to discuss with any member of our team. We are respectful and compassionate to all patients, at every appointment. Our desire is that fearful individuals begin at a pace that is appropriate for their needs. We hope to help you avoid having a painful dental problem that forces you into treatment that may have been avoided with an involved dental relationship.

Let us help you overcome the obstacles to a healthy, bright smile! We look forward to seeing your transformation!

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Dr. Ban R. Barbat

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