A healthy mouth is an essential component of a healthy body and high quality of life. Research has confirmed numerous links between oral and systemic health, as well as social and psychological benefits of an attractive smile. These finding are strong incentive to seek services from a high-quality dentist in Willoughby Hills. Yet, for many patients, there is an equally strong force stopping them from making an appointment – and that is anxiety.
Fast facts about dental anxiety – what it is and isn’t
- Is more common than you might think
- Is NOT something to be laughed at or feel embarrassed about
- Is a barrier between millions of patients and the care they need
- Is NOT an insurmountable obstacle
- Is something you can fight back against, with the help of the team at Smile Brighter Willoughby Hills
What causes the anxiety?
Some patients can easily answer this question. They might have clear memories of a treatment gone wrong, experiences with a careless dentist, or medical procedures performed long ago, when pain management was a fledgling field of medicine. Past traumatic dental or medical treatments are among the top reasons for anxiety, but there are many others. Some patients aren’t even sure why the thought of sitting in a dentist’s chair is so unnerving.
An estimated 15 percent of American adults suffer from dental anxiety. While some are able to muster their way through necessary treatment, the stress nearly outweighs the benefit. For many people, anxiety prevails, and appointments are canceled (or never even scheduled). According to the American Dental Association, nearly ten percent of adults do not plan to see a dentist in the next year, and anxiety is among the top ten reasons.
Causes or contributing factors of anxiety may include:
- Injury or disease affecting the head and neck area, which makes dental treatment uncomfortable
- PTSD and other effects of traumatic experiences, including abuse and other traumas unrelated to dental treatment
- Phobias such as fear of confined spaces or fear of losing control
- Medical or emotional conditions that make it difficult to sit still for long periods of time
- General anxiety, clinical depression, or similar conditions
- Low pain tolerance or high resistance to pain medications
- Strong gag reflex
- Conditions that cause involuntary muscle movement
- Generally disliking someone being in close personal proximity; the feeling that your dentist or hygienist is “invading your space”
Effective techniques for coping with – and overcoming – anxiety
Don’t try to face your fear alone
Most psychologists stress the importance of discussing anxiety with your dentist. If you feel that your concerns are not taken seriously, or that you are being judged, then it may be time to find a new practice. We will welcome you and treat you with respect, empathy, and understanding. Our team understands that “calming down” is not as simple as it sounds; we will work with you to identify and mitigate your specific stressors, making the experience as comfortable as possible.
Avoid the same old drill...
Dental drills have a distinctive sound, smell, and skull-shaking vibration. For many people, these things are directly linked to dental fear. Thankfully, innovative air-abrasion technology has provided a gentle new alternative. In many cases, tooth fillings and other procedures can be completed without ever using a drill. This technology is quiet, comfortable, and gentle on your teeth.
Choose effective pain management
Standard protocol for most dental treatment includes local analgesic, which numbs the tooth. Nitrous oxide is also available for enhancing relaxation and reducing pain. If needed, patients are provided with oral pain medication recommendations post-treatment. All too often, the pain management plan ends there – yet, these simple steps are not always enough.
Dr. Michael Stern, founder of Smile Brighter Willoughby Hills, is a diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management. He is well-known for his comprehensive – and effective – approach to patient comfort. From addressing psychological triggers to making accommodations for motion-inhibiting joint disease, every patient has unique needs. By assessing and addressing those needs, we create a customized comfort plan.
Often, the first and simplest step is the most difficult. Don’t over-think it; just pick up your phone and give us a call. Our friendly office staff will be happy to answer your questions and discuss your concerns. If it feels right, go ahead and schedule an appointment for a no-pressure consultation. Come meet Dr. Stern, learn about our services and our unique approach to addressing dental anxiety. Open the door to a new world of great oral health and beautiful smiles. Just dial (440) 210-0999 to get started.