At Dores Dental, we’re not sure how dentists got to be such a heavy in popular culture. From the leather-jacket-wearing dentist who gets eaten by a plant in the “The Little Shop of Horrors” to Laurence Olivier’s Nazi dentist in “Marathon Man,” dentists are often represented as pretty awful people.
Given that, maybe it’s no wonder that so many people experience dental anxiety when they visit the dentist.
Dental Anxiety Is Common
If you have dental anxiety, you are certainly not alone. Peter Milgrom, DDS, author of “Treating Fearful Dental Patients” and director of the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle, estimates that up to eight percent of Americans shy away from dental visits due to fear. Even more folks, perhaps 20 percent, go to the dentist only for dental emergencies, Milgrom says.
What Causes Dental Anxiety?
Not surprisingly, fear is the top driver of dental anxiety. Many people have developed a fear of dentistry due to a prior bad experience at the dentist office.
There are three common dental fears:
- Pain. A Canadian study found that those who had prior painful experiences were more likely to experience pain during subsequent dental visits. People with dental anxiety, those who expected dental procedures to be painful, and those who felt they had no control over their treatment were also more likely to experience pain, according to the study.
- Embarrassment. Dentists do need to get into your personal space for your dental exams and other treatments. This is a problem for some folks, who are uncomfortable having someone look into their mouth or who may be embarrassed by the condition of their teeth or their breath.
- Loss of control. Many people are uncomfortable when they feel they have no control over what is happening to them.
How We Address Dental Anxiety
The good news is, our caring staff is great at addressing dental anxiety. In fact, it’s one reason Dores Dental has earned multiple patient choice awards from Vitals.com. Some reviews specifically mention our team’s ability to soothe patients’ nerves.
We’ve developed a unique approach for dealing with dental anxiety. We ask our new patients to fill out a form that helps us establish their comfort levels with different dental procedures. This is helpful because it lets us know which procedures you are anxious about and why they bother you.
Then we let you choose from a “menu” of comfort options. This lets us determine what works best to ease your nerves. It also gives you a sense of shared control over your treatment.
Dental Technology Can Ease Dental Anxiety
Needles and drills play into dental anxiety for many people. We use dental technology that relieves fears about both of those common dental tools.
- DentalVibe. We use this tool when administering anesthesia. Its gentle vibrations affect how your nerve sends pain signals to your brain. So you won’t even feel the needle prick. And the vibration helps your anesthesia work faster to get you completely numb for your dental procedures!
- Solea CO2 laser. This is the first laser approved by the FDA for use on both hard and soft tissue. We use it instead of a drill for procedures like tooth fillings. This eliminates the noise, smell, and sensation from the drill that many people dislike. Most procedures performed with this laser don’t even require anesthesia!
5 Tips for Dealing With Dental Anxiety
- Talk to Dr. Dores prior to any procedure that concerns you. We want you to know exactly what to expect from your treatment, so we encourage you to ask as many questions as you’d like.
- Try a distraction. Some people find it helpful to listen to favorite music or an audiobook during their dental procedures.
- Bring a friend or family member with you. Your buddy can talk to you and lend support, which helps most people feel less anxious.
- Schedule an early morning appointment. That way, you get your visit out of the way and don’t spend time fretting about it. Our Longmeadow, MA office opens at 7 a.m. on weekdays, so early appointments are no problem.
- Don’t avoid dental treatment. You may be a bit nervous about getting a tooth filling. But that anxiety will get worse if decay gets bad enough to require a more advanced treatment like a dental crown or even a root canal. Regular exams will help us find problems and deal with them in their earliest stages.
Looking for a dentist in Longmeadow, MA who knows how to deal with dental anxiety? Our dental technology and menu of comfort options can ease your nerves. Call Dores Dental at 413-241-3995 to schedule an appointment. Or use our online form.