I totally understand and I get it. A dental office is not an easy place to walk in to. It’s a place that generally makes some people nervous. Because of this, I try to put myself in the patient’s shoes in order to become more sensitive and compassionate to their needs. After all, the emotional component is a big one. We’re all physical beings , but the brain itself is pretty complex, more so than say a liver or kidney (and I don’t mean to ‘diss’ these organs).
The brain consists of a multitude of synapses and chemicals which are the genetic makeup of our personality. In fact, depending on this delicate chemical balance, we may be more prone to being fearful and anxious people.
In this segment, we will focus on how it is possible for someone with dental phobias and anxiety to feel more comfortable coming to the dentist.
There is a difference between dental fear and dental phobia. Many people experience fear and anxiety when they go to the dentist. This is quite common. More extreme is an actual dental phobia. A phobia is when your fear becomes irrational and you can’t change your way of thinking. You will avoid the trigger at any cost. The only time a ‘phobic’ person will go to the dentist is when they’re in extreme pain.
Some of the causes of dental anxiety are:
1) Fear of pain: This usually stems from a bad experience as a child, or from what other people have to say about their own experiences. For this reason, I tell people who are going to have a procedure like root canal or an extraction, not to tell other people, because they’ll just fill their head with stories they heard which may or may not be true.
2) Fear of needles: This is a tough one, because in most cases, we need to give an injection in order to work on a tooth. But with the help of nitrous oxide or laughing gas and/or medication i.e., tranquilizers, cognitive behavior therapy and relaxation techniques, we can get past this.
3) Fear of losing control: Some people like to be in control of most situations, and giving it up can be quite difficult. It is helpful at these times to let the patient know what you’re doing i.e., give them a play-by-play on what we’re doing as we go through the procedure. In this way they may feel as they still have some control over what is going on around them.
As time goes on, you will become more comfortable with your dentist, the dental team, and the overall atmosphere in the office. It won’t be as difficult for you to come to an appointment as you will have more of a comfort level which will in turn alleviate these fears.
Meeting you for the first time
When I first meet someone, I always ask how long it’s been since they have last seen a dentist. Many people say it’s been quite a while and the reasons they give are usually:
1) they didn’t have insurance
2) had a bad experience at their previous dentist and
3) too scared or anxious
I whole heartedly understand all of these reasons. With regards to the insurance issue , I realize that it’s hard for people to come if they don’t have adequate finances (especially in these economic times). My staff and I are very sensitive to this and do our best to work within the realms of our patient’s insurance plans ( see your first appointment at our office) and budgets.
When someone tells me they left their previous dentist, I ask them why they left. After all, I don’t want to make the same mistake. We really try our best to accommodate everyone’s needs.
If someone is anxious and scared , and this is what has kept them away, we really try to ‘ease’ them into the practice at a slower pace. Perhaps first with a cleaning, followed by a thorough checkup. We have nitrous oxide (laughing gas), which is very helpful because it takes the ‘edge’ off. We still ‘freeze’ or ‘numb’ the patient with local anesthetic, but the patient doesn’t mind due to the effects of the laughing gas. In addition, there are sedatives such as valium which also help to ease the patients nerves. You can also bring an Ipod and listen to your favorite music.
In general, we really try to get you through a procedure if you are having a hard time, and feel that ‘slow and steady’ is the winner in the end!
We’ve helped many patients overcome their fear of the dentist and we can help you too. Call us today at (905) 791-3867 for the best in gentle and anxiety-free dentistry. You’ll be glad you did.
We are located in the heart of Brampton at 40 Finchgate Boulevard, Suite 121 at Bestgate Professional Centre. We welcome new patients, walk-ins and dental emergencies for all ages.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Dr Axelrad and Staff