Are you afraid to go to the dentist?
It turns out you’re not alone; somewhere between nine and 15% of Americans put off going to the dentist because they’re afraid. That means 30 to 40 million people in this country are avoiding necessary dental care.
That’s a lot of cavities, just waiting to happen.
Afraid of the Dentist? Overcoming Your Fear
Most of us don’t find going to the dentist fun. Regular preventative care can help you avoid the uncomfortable processes like fillings or oral surgery. But what if you’re so scared you can’t make yourself show up for even the routine visits?
It turns out there are a few different levels to our fears of the dentist. General anxiety is accompanied by the feeling of dreading the visit. Some people come in worried that their exam won’t go well, which makes them anxious. A study by the American Dental Hygienists’ Association suggested there were five reasons patients felt anxious before visiting the dentist:
- Worry about the overall experience.
- A prior bad dental experience.
- The cost of treatment.
- The gag reflex.
- Fear of receiving bad news.
But there may be more to it than that. A Norwegian researcher discovered that human beings have an ingrained physical compulsion to protect their air passages. Our mouth is the gateway to our lungs, and your body instinctively moves to protect the air passages in the nose and throat.
Could this biological urge affect those of us with the deeper phobia of the dentist?
For these lower-level anxieties, we recommend watching television or listing to your iPod during your visit. Talking with your dental team beforehand can help alleviate some of these worries.
But dental anxiety is a much lower level of fear; some people are simply terrified of the dentist. That’s called dental phobia. This means even the best Las Vegas dentist can’t help you overcome your fears by talking things out. In fact, some studies suggest that dental phobia is a form of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
In these cases, sedation dentistry, which could include nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral sedation, or IV sedation, might help you cope with the visit better.
Passing Your Fears Onto Your Kids
One of the worst things we see is that a fearful adult will turn a perfectly comfortable child into a nervous wreck when coming to the dentist. This sets up a cycle of bad oral hygiene that could take years to overcome.
In order to teach your children that the dentist isn’t really so bad, consider working with your Las Vegas dentist to improve the experience:
- Take along a friend who can coach you through the visit.
- Ask the dentist to tilt your chair up so you’re not so horizontal.
- Request an anesthetic such as nitrous gas to take off the edge.
Worry Free Las Vegas Dentist
Missing dental visits can leave you vulnerable to tooth decay and other health issues. If you’re suffering from dental anxiety or dental phobia, we highly recommend calling your Las Vegas dentist to discuss your options.