Between 5% and 8% of Americans avoid seeing a dentist out of fear, according to the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle. Nearly 20% will go to the dentist only when absolutely necessary.* Dental fear is also more common in older people, who may have had bad experiences when technologies and practices were not as advanced as they are today. The result of these fears leave millions of Americans avoiding regular preventative dental care.
Luckily, dental anxiety no longer needs to prevent you from obtaining regular dental care. Today’s dentist is much more focused on patient comfort, and anesthesia is also more effective than in years gone by. In addition, there are strategies for overcoming your phobias of dental care.
One of the most frightening parts of a dental visit for many is the lack of control. They see a dentist looming above them while in a reclined position, and during procedures they can hardly talk or respond. By giving more control of the visit to the patient, fearfulness is reduced significantly. Communication about your fears at the beginning of a visit is important, as is setting signals for communication during procedures.
There are other specific strategies you can discuss with your dentist before you begin treatment, all of which are standard procedure at Kimbrough Dental.
*Peter Milgrom, DDS, director, Dental Fears Research Clinic, University of Washington, Seattle.