Here’s the crazy thing; some people are so afraid of the dentist that they simply avoid going. This creates a health risk for people who are too scared to have regular check-ups that can spot the dangers of an oral health problem before it turns into a big deal. The irony is that if you put off the preventative check-ups, then a real problem could occur that might be more unpleasant to repair.
While most adults can overcome their fears, children often express terror with what WebMD calls “the evil incarnation of the tooth fairy.” This article looks at why our fears of the dentist can start in childhood and last a lifetime and how we can overcome these fears with gentleness, compassion, dental skill, and a good dose of common sense patient care.
Research Shows Why Kids Fear the Dentist
A Scottish study called “A Clinical Study of Child Dental Anxiety” published in Behaviour Research and Therapy studied 60 children in two age groups (7-10 and 11-14) to try to quantify why they were so anxious when going to the dentist.
They found that children often develop these fears, which could last into adulthood. They’re often tied to a bad experience at the dentist, such as having a tooth pulled at an early age. Too, children seem to react more positively to a dentist that seems to have empathy and compassion during the visit. Interestingly, the study also found that if the parents, especially the Mother, were more anxious, the child seemed to pick up on and magnify that anxiety.
Yet, children, like their parents, should see the oral hygienist and dentist twice a year. This helps us maintain the health of their teeth and gums while heading off any oral health issues before they escalate. This regular maintenance will help us avoid any of the “scarier” procedures that include the sound of a drill, for example.
Overcoming Dental Fears at Your Las Vegas Dentist
At Smiles by Dr. Hadley, we know that part of what’s so scary for any new patient, no matter their age, is the fear of the unknown. For our younger patients, it’s sometimes helpful to have them sit on their Mom’s lap to have their first few dental visits. Or, if they have a big brother or sister, it’s helpful to have them watch their dental visit so they can see there’s nothing to be scared of.
Sometimes we’ll even play games, like “Name that tool,” to try to make the experience fun and not scary at all. (Note, we usually only play games with children, but if your 35-year old wants to play, we’re game.) The point is that we create a welcoming and comfortable environment for our patients that illustrates that there is nothing to fear – except fear itself.
Dr. Hadley’s team is devoted to a comfortable, easy dental experience where you are the center of the experience. If you would like a welcoming environment where you can address your childhood fears, or if you have a young child who would like a tour of our office, please don’t hesitate to contact us.