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Dental Anxiety and Fear

Dental Anxiety and Fear

Why is it that so many people are so afraid to go to the dentist?  Why is it that I have so many people who come in and say: “Dr. Blazer, it’s nothing against you personally, but I really hate going to the dentist!”

Well, in my over 20 years of practice, I’ve learned some things from talking with fearful patients. First of all, they are afraid of pain. If they have a lot of dental problems, they are embarrassed to have me look in their mouths and see that they’ve been neglecting their oral health. They are worried how much it’s going to cost to fix their problem, but mostly they are afraid of pain.

Many of these patients have had bad experiences as children and that fear has carried over into adulthood. What they don’t realize is that dentistry has come a long way towards making visits more comfortable and pain free. The anesthetics we use today are more effective and there is always nitrous oxide (laughing gas) available, if you're a bit anxious.

But getting back to the dental visit for children:  Parents of my pediatric patients are amazed when their children emerge from their dental appointments not only having had a stress-free visit, but are asking when they get to come back again! Now, as a parent myself, I must admit I have mastered the art of distraction. When kids come in for appointments, they get to choose an age-appropriate movie to watch. They get to use headphones while they watch the movie. If necessary, laughing gas is also used. But the most important thing I do is COMMUNICATE with children. I tell and show them everything I’m going to do before I do it. If I think something is going to be even remotely uncomfortable for the patient, I tell them about it ahead of time. Children are remarkably cooperative and helpful if they know what to expect.

And I treat my adult patients the same way.   Basically I treat people the way I would want to be treated.   Adults get to choose movies and laughing gas is always available. For some exceptionally fearful patients, laughing gas is not enough, and they take a prescription medication for additional relaxation during appointments. Patients love watching movies during their appointments. It makes the time pass much more quickly. And it makes my job easier because I know they are relaxed and entertained.

I can tell you that emergency dentistry, the kind that you put off until you are in desperate pain, oftentimes costs significantly more than regular care. And if the only care you seek is when you are in pain, how will you ever experience the type of stress and pain free visit I’ve just described?
So what do you say? Maybe it’s time to take that first step towards dental health and call my office to make an appointment. You’ll be glad you did.

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