Do you have dental anxiety? Or maybe someone close to you does?
It’s not a surprise, given how dentists are portrayed in popular culture. Real dentists are nice people – really – but you’d never know it from movies like “Marathon Man.” If you’ve seen the 1976 film, you probably cringe when thinking of the scene where a Nazi dentist played by Laurence Olivier tortures Dustin Hoffman using dental tools.
At Family Dental of Spokane Valley, we hope you’ll give us a chance to help you or your family member overcome your dental anxiety. Our Spokane Valley, WA team has many years of experience in soothing patients’ nerves. We also offer dental sedation, which can help calm your jangled nerves by giving you a sense of control during procedures.
Call us in Spokane Valley, WA at 509-850-3217 to talk to us about your dental anxiety. Talking about dental anxiety is the first step to overcoming it.
You Are Not Alone in Your Dental Anxiety
According to Peter Milgrom, DDS, author of “Treating Fearful Dental Patients” and director of the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle, up to eight percent of Americans avoid dental visits due to fear. An even higher percentage, perhaps 20 percent, will only go to the dentist for dental emergencies, he says.
Common Causes of Dental Anxiety
Fear is the leading cause of dental anxiety. For many folks, their fear is often based on a previous bad experience at the dentist office.
Three common dental fears are:
- Fear of pain. A widely cited Canadian study found that people who had prior painful experiences at the dentist were more likely to experience pain. Also more likely to experience pain were people with dental anxiety, those who expected dental procedures to be painful, and those who felt they had no control over their treatment.
- Fear of embarrassment. Our Dr. Craig Ellsworth and other dentists must get into your personal space for dental exams and other treatments. This bothers some people, who are uncomfortable having a relative stranger so close to them or who may be embarrassed by the condition of their teeth.
- Fear of loss of control. Some people do not like it when they feel they have no control over their circumstances.
Overcoming Dental Anxiety: What We Can Do
Fortunately, there are many strategies you can try to ease your dental anxiety. And we’ll do everything we can to help.
We offer some features in our office that address two of the three common fears. They are:
- To ease fears associated with a loss of control, we use patient-friendly dental technology like our intraoral camera. When Dr. Ellsworth examines you with this camera, you can see exactly what he is looking at inside your mouth. He can easily point out any dental issues he might find.
- To allay concerns about both pain and loss of control, we use conscious sedation for our dental procedures. You should feel relaxed while still aware of your surroundings. Most people can still respond to Dr. Ellsworth’s voice. You will quickly return to your usual self following conscious dental sedation.
Overcoming Dental Anxiety: What You Can Do
In addition to asking us about conscious dental sedation, here are five other tips that can help relieve your dental anxiety, or the dental anxiety of a family member:
- Talk to Dr. Ellsworth prior to any procedure that concerns you, whether it is a teeth cleaning or a tooth extraction. Ask as many questions as you’d like. That way, you will know exactly what to expect.
- Use a distraction. Consider listening to favorite music or an audiobook during dental procedures.
- Bring along a family member or trusted friend. Having a buddy along helps most people feel more at ease.
- Book an early morning appointment so you get your visit out of the way and do not spend time worrying about it. That’s easy to do in our Spokane, WA office as we offer appointments as early as 7 a.m. several days a week.
- Get dental treatment in a timely manner. Never put off seeking dental attention if you think you have a problem. You may be a little nervous about getting a tooth filling. But your anxiety will be much worse if decay becomes bad enough to require a dental crown or root canal.