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Understanding Dental Fear and Anxiety and How to Overcome

Many individuals put off visiting the dentist, even for routine preventative care, for one major reason — fear. And when we say many individuals, we mean millions.

It is estimated that up to 35 million people avoid the dentist altogether due to anxiety and fear. This includes but is not limited to the fear of discomfort, uncertainty of the outcome, fear of potential harm, or simply envisioning the worst case scenario.

Many individuals develop these fears by association with past negative experiences, or by visualizing dramatic imagery and anticipating loud drilling sounds, both of which have unfortunately become associated with a trip to the dentist.

Visiting a dentist does not have to be an anxiety-inducing situation. It can even be made enjoyable. Thanks to technological advances, dentistry is more quiet, and comfortable than ever. Painless laser beams have taken the place of noisy drills in many cases. And there are a number of anesthetics available to eliminate pain and reduce anxiety, even for routine appointments.

Selecting a practice that understands the potential fear and seeks to make the patient as comfortable as possible is key. Here at Palencia Dental, we pride ourselves in understanding the common fears and working with you to make you as relaxed as possible for a pain-free, low (or no) anxiety appointment.

Common Dental Fears

Common fears of visiting the dentist office include:

• Fear of embarrassment about the condition of teeth.
• Fear of gagging.
• Fear of injections.
• Fear of loss of control.
• Fear of not becoming numb when injected with Novocain.
• Fear of pain.
• Fear of the dentist as a person.
• Fear of the drill (handpiece).

Overcoming Anxiety and Fear

Here are several ways we can work with you and support you in calming your nerves to ensure you have the most pleasant and pain-free experience possible.

1. Talk It Out: Speaking honestly with us and getting your fears out in the open is key to addressing them one by one.
2. Turn to Music: Listening to calming music throughout the appointment will help to reduce anxiety. Not only is music relaxing, it can drown out any fear-producing noises.
3. Establish Clear Signals: Deciding on a clear non-verbal signal as a sign of discomfort means it will be very evident if you do reach of point of needing to stop due to pain or fear.
4. Prevent Gag Reflex: Many of us struggle with what we call a gag reflex, or even the fear of gagging. Throat sprays (like Vicks® Chloraseptic® Throat Spray) can actually control the gag reflex. Just two or three sprays can help keep the reflex under control for about an hour.
5. Consider Sedation: If there is no other way to cope calmly and effectively, sedation offers an excellent option for many people. Sedation dentistry is popular because most sedatives can be taken by mouth, meaning no injections, no anxiety, and no pain. Here at Palencia Dental, we also offer an all-natural alternative called Nu-Calm for those with dental anxieties.
7. Lasers and Alternatives: Advances in technology mean that a dental microsurgery is now an option. Lasers can be used to prepare teeth for fillings, whiten teeth and remove staining.

For those suffering from any level of dental anxiety, here at Palencia Dental, Dr. Kinsey and our close-knit, highly-skilled team are prepared to discuss all the options with you and decide on the one that is most effective for you, that will produce minimal or no anxiety.