Too often, we hear about people who put off dental work, often for years, due to a fear of the dentist. Dentists have gotten a bad rap over the years with portrayals in movies and on television that characterized them as evil, mean sadistic people who love making their patients suffer.
Many people claim that they would rather wait in line for hours at the DMV than go to the dentist’s office, but they still show up for their regular checkups every six months. Did you know, however, that some people have such a great fear of the dentist that they cannot even pick up the phone to call and schedule an appointment without having a nervous breakdown?
Dr. Nikki Green understands the fear these people feel, and wants to help them get past it and receive the dental care they need.
To learn more about overcoming dental fears, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Green, call our Ft. Worth, TX, dental office today at (817) 737-6601.
What Causes Dental Anxiety?
Dr. Green and the staff at Ft. Worth Family and Cosmetic Dentistry understand that many patients stress out over dental appointments. Some people, however, feel downright terrified. Their fear may keep them from visiting the dentist for years, which only makes the condition of their mouth worse, requiring even more of the work they fear.
By the time these patients finally make it to a dental office, usually because of a toothache that causes them a lot of pain, they need a lot of dental work done. Over the years, patients have provided many reasons to Dr. Green for their fear of going to the dentist. A few of the most common include:
- Pain – The most common reason given by patients for their reluctance to visit the dentist, fear of pain can keep people from visiting the dentist for years. Much of this fear results from watching horrible portrayals of dentists in television shows and movies. For older patients, the fear may stem from memories of visits they attended as children, before many of the advancements we have experienced in dental pain management. Dr. Green uses a gentle touch when working on our patients’ teeth, and tries to make her procedures as minimally invasive and pain-free as possible to keep the patient comfortable.
- Past Experience – Many patients’ fear comes as a direct result of a terrible experience they had with another dentist in the past. They may have visited a doctor who performed work on a tooth without ensuring he numbed the area around it correctly first. A patient may have undergone a painful procedure, then found out later that he did not need it. These patients live in fear that they will experience the same thing the next time they go to the dentist. At Ft. Worth Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, our doctors and hygienists will include you in all treatment planning, and will talk you through every step of the procedure, explaining why we need to perform it. We also pledge to never perform a procedure until you sign off on it.
- Loss of Control – Many patients feel that they will lose all control of their situation once they sit in the dental chair. These patients may have seen a dentist who took advantage of their stress and anxiety pressuring them into treatments or procedures they did not want. They often feel as though they must do what the dentist says. When you visit our office, you are the “boss” and have the final say on all treatment options. Dr. Green will make recommendations for treatment options, but will never pressure you into any treatments you do not want.
- Embarrassment – Patients who stay away from the dentist for a long period of time due to their anxiety, worry that when they finally come in for an appointment the doctor or staff will lecture them or treat them badly due to the condition of their teeth and gums after so much time. Dr. Green and the rest of our staff assure you that you will never experience this kind of behavior in our office. We understand your fears, and we will not judge you. The fact that you have overcome your fears enough to take the first step of visiting our office to receive the treatment you need deserves praise, not judgement.
While dental anxiety can keep people from visiting the dentist for a long time, patients eventually overcome their feelings of stress and fear when they have pain and can’t stay away any longer. Some people, however, suffer from dental phobia and may feel so crippled by their fear that they can’t even call the office to make an appointment. Just thinking about a dental appointment the next day can keep these patients from sleeping the night before.
As they sit in the waiting room, these patients become increasingly nervous, to the point of sometimes becoming physically ill. They may require some coaxing to walk back to the exam room, and some may even break down and cry as they sit in the chair.
Our staff recognizes the fear that patients with dental phobia feel, and we allow them to take their time walking back to the exam room, offering them emotional and physical support along the way. Occasionally, just having someone to hold their hand as they walk back to the exam room provides the support these patients need.
Overcoming Your Fear
When patients with dental phobia come to our dental practice, we do everything we can to help them relax and get as comfortable as possible. This includes minimizing time in the waiting area for our phobic patients, and helping them to the exam room at whatever pace the feel comfortable with.
Once settled in the examination chair, we make sure the patient has a warm blanket, and allow him to choose a music or television offering to take his mind of the procedure. We will attempt to complete as much work as possible in one appointment, to avoid having the patient come back multiple times. We can even create same day crowns using our CEREC machine, eliminating the need for patients to come in for a second visit to have a crown placed.
For patients who still have trouble getting comfortable we offer sedation dentistry. We have sedation available for all procedures from simple cleanings to more complicated procedures like placing dental implants. The doctor can even complete several treatments that would normally require multiple visits in just one day with the patient under sedation. Sedatives reduce the brain’s ability to recognize pain and discomfort, while easing feelings of stress and fear. By the time the sedative wears off, most patients find they have little or no memory of the procedure.
Types of Sedation We Offer
Dr. Green offers our patients two types of sedation. She will help you decide which option will work best for you during your consultation. She will consider the procedure being performed and your level of stress and anxiety, and make a recommendation that she feels will offer you the most comfort.
- Nitrous Oxide – Sometimes called “laughing gas” due to the feelings of euphoria it can induce, nitrous oxide is a gas that you inhale through a mask, and it will leave you feeling calm and relaxed. The effects of the gas will start to diminish as soon as the mask is removed, leaving you free to return to work or any other activities right away.
- Oral Sedation – If Dr. Green recommends oral sedation, you will take a sedative in pill form about an hour prior to your appointment. The sedative will begin to relax you almost immediately and will wear off slowly, so you will need a responsible driver to bring you in for your appointment and take you home after. As the doctor works, you will slip into a state of complete mental and physical relaxation. While under sedation, you will maintain the ability to converse with the doctor, but you will have no awareness of any details of your treatment. Most patients who use oral sedation can resume normal activities by the same evening.
Call Us Today
To learn more about dental phobia or sedation dentistry, call our Ft. Worth, TX, dental office today at (817) 737-6601.