Dental phobia is at the top of many people’s list of fears. It’s called Odontophobia and it’s a real fear and it can cause people real problems. DO I REALLY NEED DENTAL CLEANINGS? If you think your teeth and gums are okay and you don’t need to go to the dentist, think again. Here’s an example of a patient who avoided the dentist for twenty years…yes TWENTY years! He had so much calculus and tarter build up that he couldn’t chew food. He could only eat soft foods and drink liquids. He had a serious problem with bad breath as well. He obviously had an extreme fear of the dentist. The impact on his daily life was unbearable and he got to a point where he had no choice but to do something. He finally overcame his dental phobia enough to come in and discuss his situation with the doctors. We worked out a plan with him to try to lessen his dental anxiety so we were able to treat him. It took close to four hours of root planing and scaling to start to get him back on track. He had several teeth that were rotten, lost a few and had some gum recession that was able to be treated. He is on the road to a more healthy life and now knows it’s a slippery slope to get back to his previous state.
CHECK OUT OUR VIDEO EXPLAINING HOW WE HELPED THIS MAN
THEN THERE’S THE FEAR OF PAINWhile at one time pain would have been an expectation as there were limited means for controlling it – thank goodness – those days are for the most part in the past. There are many options for pain control now so be open and honest with your dentist about your dental phobia. Your dentist can review your options with you to determine the best plan for your particular situation. Dentists understand the fear and anxieties associated with dental visits and are prepared to work with you so you’re comfortable with the process and what your appointment will consist of.
FEAR OF CHOKINGPeople who have a fear of choking often feel when their mouth is open for an extended period of time, it will fill up with saliva and they will not be able to swallow it. If this is one of your concerns, let your dentist know ahead of time that you are fearful of choking. This will help your dentist to be more conscious of suctioning excess saliva from your mouth immediately. It may even be possible to arrange some sort of signal with your dentist when you would like them to suction to keep your anxiety at bay.
HOW CAN I LESSEN MY ANXIETY?It’s okay to speak up. Asking questions so you know what to expect may lessen your anxiety or fear of the unknown. Many patients don’t feel comfortable discussing their pain tolerance. Don’t be afraid to interrupt your dentist during a cleaning or procedure. Before you start, make sure you discuss your concerns and the best way they can make you more comfortable. If you enjoy listening to music or podcasts, put on a pair of headphones. To keep your mind off of your dental phobia, it’s a good idea to keep yourself busy with a stress ball and try doing some breathing exercises. When I’m stressed I often stay relaxed by focusing on each muscle one at a time, releasing all the tension in my entire body. Try it. Just imagine your favorite place in the world and picture yourself there.
SEDATION DENTISTRYMany dental offices have sedation dentistry to help patients with dental phobia to overcome their anxiety. Conscious sedation dentistry allows patients to relax while their dental work is being completed. Dental sedation not only helps ease the anxiety of the patient, it may also help the dentist to complete the work needed in a shorter period of time…a bonus for both of you! Many people allow their fear of the dentist to keep them from ever going to get cleanings. Going years without cleanings and maintenance can be detrimental to your teeth, gums and even your overall health! The build-up of tarter and calculus continues to progress and can lead to many issues like severe gum disease, bone and tooth loss. The bacteria in gum disease can even travel through your body contributing to:
- Heart Disease
- Breast Cancer
- Colon Cancer
- COPD/Respiratory Disease
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Premature/low birth weight
- Kidney Disease
- Prostate problems
- A 1.36 fold increase in getting lung cancer
- A 21% increase in esophageal cancer
- Be 70% more likely to get dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- Be four times more likely you could get Rheumatoid arthritis