Fear of going to the dentist is not uncommon.


In fact, studies estimate that roughly 36% of the population suffer from dental anxiety, or dental fear.  For most of these people, this fear is not unfounded, but it can unfortunately lead to low dental attendance, or just not visiting the dentist at all.  We all know how important regular checkups are, but what can be done for those who's fear of the dentist makes it seem impossible to go?


Why are people afraid of the dentist?

There are a wide variety of reasons people develop fear of going to the dentist.  The most common reason, unsurprisingly, is pain.  Painful experiences are stored vividly in our memories, and can create a strong negative association in the brain with whatever activity caused that pain to occur.  This is why for many people, one bad experience is all it takes to stop going entirely. This negative experience can have further reaching implications too.  Studies show that for children and adolescents, a parent or peer's negative view towards going to the dentist can create a similar outlook in the child.  The problem is that not going to the dentist can cause more severe dental issues to arise, ones that require much more involved procedures to resolve and ones that can probably be avoided with regular visits for checkups and cleanings.  There are plenty of reasons people avoid going to the dentist, but the important thing is to know there are options available to you that will make your dental visit safe and comfortable


What can I do if I'm afraid of the dentist?

The answer will surprise you!  Okay maybe it won't, but it's probably simpler than you think.  Talk to your dentist.  Discuss with them the concerns you have and see what options are available to you.  Dental hygienists and Dentists themselves understand and are equipped to help you deal with your fear and anxiety of the dentist.  There is of course sedation dentistry, and we'll get to that, but sometimes just feeling comfortable and having an open line of communication about what is expected can make all the difference.  One of the main reasons people avoid going to the dentist, other than pain which we've discussed, is the feeling of a loss of control.  There's a level of vulnerability that comes with sitting in the chair and having work done, but odds are your Dentist understands this and it's possible that a simple conversation with them will put many of your fears to rest. 


What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry uses medication to offer patients a calm, more relaxing dental visit.  There are different levels of sedation ranging from minor sedation where the patient is still conscious all the way up to general anesthesia.  The more minor forms of sedation involve using Nitrous Oxide, also known as "laughing gas", which gives the patient a general sense of calmness and well-being that helps to reduce dental fear and anxiety during the procedure.  From there we have oral sedation, which depending on the dosage can be minimal to a more moderate form of sedation, and beyond that are the options which involve either IV sedation, going all the way up to general anesthesia.  Most dentists will be licensed and equipped to administer minor sedation, but not all of them will be able to administer moderate sedation and general anesthesia.  If you think Sedation Dentistry could be an option for you, speak with your Dentist, or better yet, call us here at Dial Dental and we will be able to set you up with a licensed, practicing Dentist who will fit your needs.