Many patients experience dental fears

Many patients experience dental fears

While few people eagerly anticipate a trip to the dentist, there are those who find routine checkups a source of extreme anxiety.

According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, these fears arise from a variety of sources, including traumatic previous experiences of their own or others, anxiety from being in any kind of medical setting, or excessive gum or tooth sensitivity.

If you’re anxious about visiting the dentist, you’re not alone. The Journal of the American Dental Association reports that as many as 75 percent of Americans have some fears about visiting the dentist, with about 10 percent having fears that have progressed into phobias.

According to the International Dentistry Journal, women are more likely to experience dental phobias. Additionally, people are typically more anxious about invasive procedures than they are about routine cleanings.

Fortunately, there is more help for the dental-phobic than ever before. For example, the University of Washington in Seattle operates a clinic that deals with patient fears through a combination of psychological and dental treatment, using behavioral techniques and sometimes medications.

Even if there is no such program in your area, here are some solutions you may be able to take advantage of:

  • Behavioral - A visit to a mental health clinic can help some learn techniques, such as self-hypnosis, systematic desensitization or cognitive restructuring. Some people may be able to get by with something as simple as relaxation techniques. Some people also report that having access to a support group helps them conquer their phobia.
  • Pharmacological - Depending on the dental practice, you might have the option of taking anti-anxiety medication shortly before the appointment or have sedation during the visit.

Because sedation can be dangerous, your doctor may want to give you an option that keeps you conscious. However, some dentists also offer general anesthesia. As always, consult your doctor and your Boston dentist about these treatment options.

The American Dental Association suggests scheduling an appointment at a time that the dentist is less likely to be rushed. If your stress is triggered by sounds, such as dental drills, you should consider using an audio player and headset to drown out the unwelcome noise.

Although a trip to the dentist is a common phobia, there are more treatment options available than ever before. By being open about your concerns, you and your dentist can create a treatment plan that’s right for you.


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