Facing dental fears is healthier than avoiding trips to the dentist

Facing dental fears is healthier than avoiding trips to the dentist

 

It’s not uncommon for people to avoid the dentist for a common reason – fear. An estimated five to eight percent of Americans do it all the time, according to the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington. And as many as 20 percent are so anxious about stepping inside a dentist office that they delay it until they have a significant dental problem that drives them there.

Dr. Peter Milgrom, D.D.S., who directs the Washington university’s program, specializes in treating patients whose fear of seeing a dentist is particularly severe. He’s written a book about them entitled Treating Fearful Dental Patients. If there’s one thing they have in common, he told WebMD.com, it’s that as many as two-thirds blame their intense fear of dentistry on a previous bad experience they had visiting a dentist.

The center treats children as well as adults, because many people who are afraid of the dentist have been fearful of having dental work done since they were youngsters.

Whatever their experience, patients who are afraid to go to the dentist office are often apprehensive about similar things. They see ominous-looking machinery hovering over them while they are stretched back and tense in an uncomfortable position with no easy way to get away. Someone they may not know every well is sticking sharp instruments into their mouths.

But these descriptions, while true, don’t have to be negative. Patients can talk out their fears with their dentist ahead of time. They can ask to have a dental assistant explain what the overhanging machinery does. By raising their hands when they are particularly uncomfortable or scared, they can get a short break from the dental work that’s under way.

Coping strategies
Staying away from the dentist is probably the worst way to deal with such fears. Not having regular check-ups increases the chance of tooth decay and other dental problems that will only require more time in the dentist chair, more expense and possibly more discomfort.

There are a number of coping strategies that can be tried by someone to push their fears away during dental work. Light meditation techniques include breathing deeply and slowly to ease tension while focusing on something completely outside the immediate environment. Some people relax by listening to music on an iPod. Others may distract themselves by constructing a scenario in their minds, such as redesigning a room at home.

Allaying children’s fears
Parents should be careful not to pass on their fear of dental work to their children. Shielding them from this anxiety will help them accept visits to their pediatric dentist as a regular part of taking care of themselves.

It’s also important to be honest with youngsters. They may experience some discomfort, so it’s best not to promise them that nothing will hurt. But stressing the good health and cleanliness that comes from a visit to the dentist will help them see it as a positive experience.

The best dentist for a child is one who addresses the youngster in a friendly tone, possibly telling them a story or starting a conversation on their level to ease their anxiousness, states WebMD. That helps to draw attention away from the procedure and develop trust in the practitioner. Praising the child’s patience and good behavior also helps to make them comfortable with their surroundings.

There are also many children’s books available that are about a trip to the dentist, making the experience sound like it should be part of a child’s normal routine. Such books describe dentistry in ways that children will understand and can prepare them for all aspects of an upcoming visit.

Read What Our Patients Say
Patient Reviews
After our former dentist retired, we had to find a new dentist for our whole family. I am thankful we found the Wadas Dental Center. Everyone in the office was wonderful to deal with and Dr. Cooper […]
Shari K.
Vicky the hygienist is awesome!
Alana K.
All around, a great experience
Cashawn M.
The staff appears to work as a team to serve the health of all their clients. Clients appear to be happy, and to get what they came for.
Angela T.
Very professional at the job they perform.
Sherman S.
Great place for a nice teeth cleaning, very friendly!
D. A.
Friendly and professional people.
Emmanuel C.
10. I was made very comfortable. Loved my Hygentist Vicky
Lana S.
Everyone here is so nice and they care a lot about your health, not just getting you in and getting you out! Thanks a bunch
Holly K.
Everyone was so pleasant from start to finish. It really felt like I had been there before. The Dentist showed real concern with preventative precautionaries and information to help with any future […]
Rhanetra L.
Stacey is an excellent hygienist! The customer service up front is considerate and on time. Dr Garbe is so personable and friendly. What a great dental practice!
William B.
Great staff
Samiriah C.
The wait time was very short. Vicky, the dental assistant is very friendly and gentle.
Kari R.
Excellent service from staff. The dentist and staff. explained the service in detail. I will recommend this dentist to family and friends.
Wendy D.
Nice atmosphere and great custo.er service, people skills.
Larissa H.
I always get in at my appointment time. The staff is very nice and pleasant. The office is always nice and clean.
Jeanette S.
I have been going to Wadas since I was a little kid and have always gotten great care. I highly recommend them to anyone.
Kristi D.
Had a wonderful experience everyone there was friendly welcoming and did a fantastic job I appreciate everything they’ve done for me and I will continue to keep going there for years to come
Marty B.
The Concern And Attention Shown
Anthony T.
My dental asst. Tasha was wonderful! I was really nervous and she really calmed me down. Dr. Cooper is great, he is also very calming and answered all my questions. I’m really glad we choose […]
Phyllis M.
We Accept Most Insurance Plans!
Learn More

We accept most insurance plans and will be happy to help you understand the coverage that you have. We will do our best to see that you receive your maximum insurance benefits for all covered services.

No Insurance? No Worries! See our discounts and offers here