Dental phobia, also commonly referred to as dental anxiety, is more common than many people realize. WebMD estimates that up to 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist each year because of their dental anxiety. But what exactly is dental anxiety, and what can be done to ease those worries, helping patients to overcome dental anxiety?

What is dental anxiety?

Dental anxiety is a type of anxiety that is brought on by a fear of visiting the dentist. Those who suffer from dental anxiety often perceive a threat or danger associated with dental procedures and treatments. In many cases, the patient cannot ascertain precisely why they fear the dentist, as those fears are often not based on a previous experience. That said, many dentists, such as the team at Duvall Dental Center, take extra steps to help patients manage their dental anxiety and get back in the habit of twice-a-year trips to the dentist for cleanings and an oral assessment.

Why do patients experience it?

There are several common reasons that people develop dental anxiety.

  1. Prior dental trauma: Unfortunately, many of us have had a bad experience at the dentist. Decades ago, there weren’t the dental technologies available to enable the comfort dentistry that we can offer today, and some procedures were painful and uncomfortable for patients. Today’s dental technology has made these experiences virtually nonexistent!
  2. Fear of needles: Unless you enjoy a tattoo, very few people can say that they enjoy being poked by a needle. Fear of needles is a real thing, so real that it has a name: trypanophobia. At Duvall Dental Center, we use The Wand, which delivers the same anesthesia in a precisely controlled, more comfortable way.
  3. Fear of pain: Every person has a varying tolerance to pain. Those with a low tolerance for pain may be more likely to experience a fear of the dentist. Whether you have images of a dental drill, being poked by a needle for anesthesia, developing tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, or something else, the best dentists will have tactics in place to increase comfort and lessen—if not remove—pain from your dental procedure altogether.
  4. Proneness to gagging: Patients who have a heightened gag reflex will also often experience dental anxiety. The gag reflex, more formally known as the pharyngeal reflex or laryngeal spasm, happens when the back of the throat contracts after it is triggered by something touching the roof of the mouth, the back of the tongue, the area around the tonsils, or the back of the throat. For most adults, the reflex can be triggered by a large object in the back of the throat, such as films used during an X-ray. With digital X-rays, however, those concerns are a thing of the past. And when the gag reflex is triggered by something else, Dr. Tyler can employ a form of sedation dentistry to make you more comfortable.

How does Duvall Dental Center help manage dental anxiety?

One of the most important things that a dentist can do to help patients manage their dental anxiety is to provide a relaxing atmosphere. A clean dentist’s office is one thing, but an office that appears cold and sterile can be very off-putting. At Duval Dental Center, we’ve figured out how to provide a clean and sanitary environment that is also warm and inviting. But our efforts to make our patients more comfortable doesn’t just stop with a welcoming atmosphere. We take the following steps as well.

  1. Patients are encouraged to ask for what they need. It’s essential for both dentist and patient that the lines of communication are open. Therefore, patients shouldn’t hesitate to let us know of their dental anxiety when they schedule an appointment.
  2. We offer a variety of new dental technologies to make patients more comfortable. From cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) to comfortably capture accurate two-dimensional images of your teeth to digital impressions that are less prone to error than their predecessors to The Wand, our advanced computer-assisted system for local anesthesia, we take steps to make you comfortable and ease your dental anxiety.
  3. Sedation dentistry is a great way to help patients ease their dental anxiety. We know that visiting the dentist can be stressful and challenging. Therefore, we offer various options for sedation dentistry, including nitrous oxide (laughing gas), minimal oral sedation, intravenous (IV) sedation, and general anesthesia.

Duvall Dental Center offers comfort dentistry designed to make your visit easy.

As we said earlier, the best thing you can do if you suffer from dental anxiety is to let us know upfront. If Dr. Tyler and the team understand your concerns, we can work with you on a treatment plan that will make you comfortable, reduce if not eliminate your pain, and help you ease that dental anxiety. If you need an appointment and want to discuss options to alleviate your dental anxiety, either request a virtual consult or an appointment.

We look forward to meeting you and making you more comfortable.