Dental Anxiety and Phobia
Scientists now recognize that most patients experience generalized dental anxiety. In fact, recent studies show that up to 75% of Americans experience some level of dentist fear and 20% postpone or avoid care because of this. If you have a fear of dentists, we want you to know that making you feel comfortable and safe at our office is our top priority.
Fear of Pain Inspires Painless Dentistry
By far, the most common dental anxiety is fear of pain. For a few people, this is the result of an unfortunate experience with a previous dentist. In others it may be the expectation of pain (generally unfounded, but real nonetheless) during treatment. Often the anticipation may be worse than the pain itself, and can even increase the perceived level of painfulness.
Years ago, some procedures like root canals or tooth extractions could be painful. But now, improvements in techniques and pain medications have come a long way toward eliminating pain and discomfort. These advances, along with calming methods and sedation dentistry, have greatly reduced the incidence and severity of dental anxieties for many patients.
Fear of Dentist – Causes and Remedies
Some individuals fear of dentistry extends beyond the dentist and even includes the dental assistant during a routine teeth cleaning. As you might expect, this can happen when a patient visits a new dentist for the first time. [On the other hand, some patients fear dentists even after many years of painless treatments.] Patients naturally wonder how sensitive the staff will be about their situation and concerns, and how gentile they are going to be. And a patient may be anxious about the procedures to be performed, options and trade-offs, or the cost of the treatments.
The greatest resource we have to help patients with dental phobias is our ears. We listen intently to what makes our patients fearful, and the suggestions they have for alleviating their worry. Beginning with the very first visit, we focus on rapport and communication well before we look at your teeth. Dr. Frank and the Walden team emphasize the importance of what makes our patients feel most at home. And that all starts with Walden seeking to understand you the patient. At Walden, we strive to make every patient comfortable before, during and after the procedures. We won’t ever claim to cure dental anxiety; but we’ll do the best possible to significantly reduce it.
Minimizing Patient Discomfort – Reducing Anxieties
Another source of anxiety is the expectation of discomfort, awkwardness or loss of feeling during the procedure. After all, you’re lying on your back with your mouth wide open and can’t see what’s going on. In this position, some people may have difficulty; so it’s no surprise this can trigger a dental phobia. And in very rare cases, people in a supine position may be susceptible to lower back pain or kinks in the neck. Rest assured our sleek comfortable chairs and head supports feel more like recliners than dentists’ chairs of old.
Thinking about being in an unnatural body position in an unfamiliar environment would make anyone uneasy. And some people become uncomfortable with the sound, feel or smell of having their teeth worked on. For patients with these types of dental phobia, we offer a variety of calming techniques. And the efficiencies of our modern digital dentistry methods mean you won’t be in this position for long. To help take your mind off this, we provide an atmosphere that resembles a day at the Alamo Drafthouse with 55″ screens and Netflix video streaming. We haven’t yet made popcorn flavored fluoride, but our lavender scented towels always ease the mood.
Other Sources of Dental Phobia
One of the most severe forms of dental anxiety is embarrassment about your teeth. Some people are ashamed of their missing, broken, crooked or severely discolored teeth. Others feel guilty about not brushing or flossing regularly, and fear the dentist or their teeth cleaner will scold them (we won’t). To paraphrase Planet Fitness, welcome to our “Judgement Free Zone!”
These anxieties seem real to the people affected. But they do not reflect the perspectives of our practice. We look at chipped, yellowed or missing teeth as great opportunities for us to improve patients’ oral health, appearance and self-confidence. A transformation in attitude and life outlook can begin almost immediately with an enhanced smile. Give us a chance to show you how!
Don’t let a dental phobia prevent or delay you from getting your teeth fixed. We can give you a shiny new smile! Click on one of the SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT links above or call our office.
Offices in Austin (512) 337-8562 or Cedar Park (512) 337-8652