It is estimated that nearly 70% of American adults have some level of dental fear, and about a third of those have such deep levels of fear that they’re classified as ‘dental phobics.’ These are people who find it difficult to even call a dental office.
We realize the majority of these fears began from a traumatic dental experience in the past. Those with severe levels of dental fear often avoid dental care until they have an emergency need. Typically, the discomfort becomes so intense that it forces them into a dental chair for treatment. What I often see, at this point, are problems that could have easily been avoided had they been able to receive regular check-ups and cleanings.
Regardless of an individual’s level of fear, we know they must feel a sense of trust that we won’t hurt them. We commonly start with a conversation in our Consultation Room sitting in comfortable arm chairs. This room is removed from the clinical side of the office so you won’t hear sounds or see a treatment chair.
We discuss your oral problems, what you want to accomplish and when your dental fears began. We realize that dental fear can be uncontrollable, like shivering in the cold. So, our first goal is to assure patients that their comfort is a priority at all times in our office.
I explain the options we use for enhanced comfort. Since many people feel stressed even before they walk into a dental office, I may recommend oral sedation. In pill form, oral sedation is highly-effective and safe. The patient takes the pill before leaving home (having a companion drive them to our office). By the time of arrival, they are very relaxed.
Before treatment begins, the medication has taken full effect. Sedated patients are monitored by a trained staff member along with monitoring equipment to ensure safety and comfort. Too, I administer numbing medication to the areas being treated so there are no worries about discomfort.
Another advantage of oral sedation is its ability to erase most or all memory of treatment afterwards. Some patients recall hearing my voice but most have no memory of their time in the chair whatsoever. Oral sedation has a quick recovery as well. After a brief nap at home, most patients feel refreshed and back to normal. Although we also offer I.V. sedation, it requires greater recovery time and is more expensive than oral sedation.
Oral sedation is a practical way for fearful adults to achieve the dental care they need. As research has shown, a healthy mouth plays a significant role in your overall health. Oral bacteria can become bloodborne in the body and has been linked to heart disease, memory loss, stroke, diabetes, arthritis and some cancers.
Just as positive, however, is seeing people who once had dental fear overcome their fear altogether. Often, after one or two visits with oral sedation, patients feel they no longer need sedating. We are always thrilled when a formerly fearful patient is relaxed in the treatment chair from start to finish!
If fear prevents you from a healthy, attractive smile, begin with a friendly phone call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles.