Overcoming Dental Phobia

For patients plagued by dental phobia, Dr. John F. Rink is here to help. At our Charleston, SC, practice, we are well aware that a successful cosmetic dentist must understand their patients' goals and fears to achieve the best results. We provide options to ease any anxieties and help you receive the care that is necessary to prevent potential health issues. To learn more and schedule an appointment, reach out to our practice today.

Understanding the Effects of Dental Phobia

Dental phobia statisticMany people are nervous about visiting the dentist's office. Even mentioning the word "dentist" inspires anxiety in anywhere between 9-20% of Americans, equivalent to around 30 million to 50 million people. The term "dental phobia" covers a wide range of reactions, ranging form low-level nerves the night before an appointment to full-blown panic attacks at the office. These patients often postpone visits or avoid the dentist as a result. But procrastination allows problems to develop unnoticed, including gum disease, tooth decay, and even early tooth loss. Poor oral care is often tied to more serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease or lung infections. Dental problems may be early signs of larger issues. Dental phobia may have emotional costs, as well. Stained or damaged teeth can make people feel too self-conscious to smile or speak easily, sometimes lowering their self-esteem enough to affect their personal and professional lives.

While every patient has unique concerns, some common reasons for dental phobia include: fear of pain, fear of injections or a concern that injections will not work, fear of anesthetic side effects, fear of helplessness or loss of control, as well as self-consciousness, embarrassment, or discomfort with a dentist's or dental hygienist's physical closeness. Bad experiences with older technology or dental practices may also leave patients cautious. 

Addressing Fear and Anxiety

The first way to address your dental phobia is to talk about your fears with your dentist. The better he or she knows your history or concerns, the better you both can decide how to lessen your anxiety. There are several strategies that can help. Before your visit, ask your dentist what to expect so you can mentally prepare yourself. It may also help to settle on a cue during treatment, such as raising your hand, to alert your dentist that you are uncomfortable or need a break. Because distraction can often help, we also provide special virtual reality (VR) TV glasses during treatment.

Sedation Options

However, some people may need extra help to cope with their anxiety. For those patients, we also offer two sedation dentistry options: inhaled and oral conscious sedation. Inhaled sedation, also known as laughing gas, is administered via a mask and inhaled through the nose. Oral sedation is administered as a pill, in a dosage appropriate to the patient's needs. While both are effective and can be tailored to a patient's unique case, each offers different benefits. 

Learn How to Manage Your Anxiety Today

Dr. Rink believes that quality care should be accessible to everyone. Your concerns are our priority. If you feel that dental phobia may be interfering with your health or have worries about an upcoming visit, contact us today.

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