In “I Hate The Dentist: The 10 Most Common Reasons People Feel Fearful or Anxious at the Dentist – Part 1” we outlined the causes and prevalence of dental fear and anxiety as well as listing the ten most common reasons people feel fearful or anxious at the dentist. This article will discuss in detail the first five of these reasons: fear of pain, fear of the needle, fear of the drill, fear of what the dentist will find wrong in their mouth (fear of needing treatment), and fear of the cost of dental treatment.
Fear of pain
No one likes experiencing pain at the dentist. For that reason, fear of pain is the number one reason people feel fearful or anxious at the dentist. For many people, this fear stems from bad experiences in the past at the dentist. Many people with this fear will avoid attending the dentist. Over time they will likely develop much more extensive dental problems and often they will only attend the dentist when they are in extreme pain. This creates another bad experience at the dentist and the cycle continues.
The good news is that local anesthetic can numb pain so that a dental visit should never be painful. The only exception to this is people with severe pain from toothaches. Dentistry is much more advanced now and dentists can numb patients, usually without any discomfort at all. Once a tooth is numb, then a patient will not experience pain. The key is attending a dentist early, before you have severe pain.
Fear of the needle
The great thing about “the needle” is that is numbs teeth so that you don’t feel pain. However, for many people having an injection is the worst thing that they can experience at the dentist. People have often had bad experiences in the past and this makes them build up the expectation of pain from an injection. The reality is that needles are much less painful today than they were in the past. Dentists routinely use topical anesthetics to “pre-numb” the area needing to be anaesthetized. Dentists also take great care to make the needle as comfortable and pain free as possible. Often nowadays, people will not feel any discomfort at all when having a dental injection.
Fear of the drill
Fear of the dental drill can mean a number of different things. For some people it is just the word drill, and its connotations, that makes them fearful. For others it is the sound of the drill and for other people it is the vibrating feeling of the drill that makes them anxious.
To help with this fear, dentists can avoid using the word “drill”. Patients can bring in earphones to drown out the sound of the dental drill. To decrease fear from the vibrating feeling, dentists can drill in shorter five second bursts so that people understand there will be a break shortly and the drilling will not last forever.
Fear of what the dentist will find wrong in their mouth (fear of needing treatment)
Many people fear that their teeth will be the worst teeth the dentist has ever seen. Often, people with this fear will have avoided seeing a dentist for a long time. These patients are often aware that things are not ideal in their mouths and that they do have numerous dental problems. However, they do not want to find out for certain that they do have problems and would rather pretend that the problems do not exist or will resolve.
The difficulty here is the longer people go between dental visits the worse the dental problems will be and the more extensive and costly dental treatment will be to fix the problems. The cheapest, most cost effective dentistry is preventative dentistry. If a dentist can see a patient regularly, then they can often put in place preventative strategies to avoid more expensive and extensive dental treatment in the future.
Fear of the cost of dental treatment
The most expensive dentistry is when dental problems are left until they are major dental problems. Often this means waiting until something is giving pain. Most dental disease is painless until its end stages, so waiting for something to become painful usually ensures more extensive dentistry will be required. Attending a dentist regularly will decrease the likelihood of needing more extensive dental treatment. Often preventative strategies can be put in place to help avoid more future dental treatment. If dental treatment is needed, regular attendance at the dentist gives the best chance that problems will be identified early, which usually means that the treatment will be less expensive.
Dr Stephen Dudgeon and Dr Stephen Tangney love seeing new patients at Avenue Dental Caloundra. They are both Dental Phobia Certified to treat fearful and anxious patients at their modern dental practice in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast. “One of the most rewarding experiences in dentistry is converting someone from a severe dental phobic into someone who enjoys coming to visit us,” Dr Stephen Dudgeon.
If you would like more information please call Avenue Dental Caloundra on (07) 5491 1111