As a dentist, I want my patients to feel good about coming to our office. I’d like to have each one smiling as they arrive, and smiling even more as they leave! Yet, it’s never a surprise when I meet a new patient who has arrived in an “emergency” situation from delayed care due to their dental fear.
While fear of dentistry affects an estimated 75% of the U.S. adult population, nearly 10% are deemed “dental phobics.” These are adults who have such a severe level of dental fear that they avoid going to the dentist until it’s no longer a choice, but a dire necessity.
Most often, we discover that this fear is the result of a traumatic dental experience in the past. Since I’ve treated hundreds of formerly fearful patients, I’ve heard some pretty awful tales. Many felt ‘pinned down’ in the treatment chair while a dentist worked on them even though they were in pain. Some tell me it’s the noises and smells that conjure up uncontrollable sweating, shaking or perception of pain even before anything is done.
A few patients have told me they feel unable to breath during dental treatment. Because breathing through the nose is necessary during many procedures, this seems to cause some adults to feel ‘suffocated.’
One comfort option that has enabled many to overcome their fear is Oral Sedation. This is a pill that is swallowed at home so they are relaxed by the time they arrive at our office. This helps them to walk in without the anxiety they would typically experience. By the time we begin treatment, they are totally relaxed and often doze in and out while in the chair.
We also offer I.V. sedation, which is beneficial for those who prefer a “twilight sleep” state. This erases memory of the procedure afterward and, as one patient described, “sends me off to la-la land.” Although I.V. sedation requires a longer recovery, it helps some to have the treatment they desperately need.
We often find that once patients have either Oral or I.V. Sedation, they return and feel they no longer need this type of relaxation. In most cases, when patients feel a foundation of trust has formed, they relax in the chair on their own. Until that time, however, we move at a pace that is best for each individual.
I’m proud that our entire staff not only knows how to nurture fearful and anxious patients, we truly emphasize with them. I’m surrounded by a skilled and compassionate team, from the front office to our hygienists to the assistants. They’ve watched me interact successfully with these adults over the years and are equally as pleased when the fear dissipates and a healthy smile walks in our office from then on!
If you’re ready to “take that step” to a healthier, more attractive smile, let’s begin with a free consultation. This will be in our Consultation Room, which is a relaxed setting away from the clinical side of the office. From there, you can decide how you’d like to proceed, or not. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to speak with one of our friendly staff members to begin. It’s painless!