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Understanding the Phenomenon of Dental Anxiety

It’s fairly common to hear that people are afraid to go to the dentist. In fact, it’s one of the most cited reasons for those who skip important appointments or avoid the recommended six-month cleanings. The ADA estimates that 9-15% of Americans have, at one point or another, avoided going to the dentist because of anxiety. That represents nearly 40 million of us!

But the dentist’s office doesn’t have to be a scary place We should know, we work in one! The staff here at Douglas G. Hope, DDS want to help folks with anxiety. We understand that this is a real issue in our profession, and we want you to know as much as possible to deter any concern:

What Are the Causes of Dental Anxiety?

There are four common causes of dental anxiety:

  1. Pain – Teeth are extremely sensitive. That’s why we try to protect them. However, people are afraid seeing the dentist will cause more pain than it will prevent.
  2. Helplessness or loss of control – Feelings of claustrophobia and powerlessness are common in patients with dental anxiety. Being unable to move is also a very real phobia for them. Lying still during dental procedures, often having no idea what’s happening is understandably worrying.
  3. Embarrassment – Our mouths are very intimate parts of our bodies. And for patients with dental issues, we may not appreciate anyone examining the flaws. Many people find the intimacy and vulnerability of dental work embarrassing.
  4. Negative past experiences – Poorly done dental work can result in quite a bit of pain, and these negative past experiences can influence patients, causing high levels of anxiety.

Dental anxiety can be caused by one or more of these factors, and can lead to serious problems. People with dental anxiety have worse overall oral health, and often suffer from quality-of-life issues. Thankfully, there are solutions!

Dealing with Dental Anxiety – Common Techniques

Dental anxiety is especially common with more invasive procedures, such as tooth pulling, fillings, dental implants and crowns. Here are a few ways that we’ve found makes patients feel more comfortable:

  1. Pain-free dentistry – Dentist’s know pain is a deterrent, so we’ve prioritized advances in recent years for minimally-invasive, pain-free dental work. Modern laser dentistry, topical anesthetics, and other techniques have made it easier than ever to reduce pain in patients, which means less to be anxious about!
  2. Comforting office environment – Dental offices now often provide comfort to patients with blankets, headphones, televisions, and other distractions. This helps patients avoid anxiety and feel more comfortable during their visits.
  3. Informative, friendly manners – Speaking in a soothing and understanding manner helps alleviate anxiety, dentists may now take the time to explain each step of the procedure. Allowing patients to know what’s going on minimizes loss of control, and mitigates apprehension.
  4. Sedation dentistry – Conscious sedation dentistry uses drugs such as nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to help patients with anxiety during minimally invasive procedures. For more invasive procedures, general anesthesia or other sedation options may be used to render patients completely unconscious.

Depending on the level of dental anxiety experienced by a patient, one or more of these techniques may be used by Dr. Douglas G. Hope and the team.

Dr. Douglas G. Hope – Specializing in Sedation Dentistry in Escondido!

Don’t fear the dentist! At the office of Douglas G. Hope, DDS, we specializes in providing a friendly, comforting environment. We understand that the visit to a dentist can be scary, so we do everything we can to minimize dental anxiety. As an expert in modern, minimally-invasive techniques and conscious sedation dentistry, we promise to take great care of you and remove as many concerns as possible.

Don’t let your dental anxiety prevent you from getting the general and cosmetic dentistry services that you need. If you’re in Escondido, Vista, San Marcos, Valley Center or Rancho Bernardo, call us for an appointment today at (760) 480-8883. Or come to our offices located at 511 E 2nd Ave., Escondido, CA 92025. See you soon!

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