Come On in To See the Dentist: How to Cope With Dental Anxiety

Many people have the anxiety when they see the dentist.  Fortunately, there are ways to cope with the anxiety and help you put on a smile at a dental visit.

People have dental anxiety because they are fearful of having pain.  They could be scared of the anesthetics injection and the various dental instruments which looks sharp and painful.  Or they could have bad childhood experience which haunts them even when they are adults.  Some of these discomfort associated with the dental procedures are realistic, but dentistry has progressed and dentists have various ways to minimize possible discomfort.

First of all, dentistry today is about newer and better technology and instrumentations.  Dentist can use new dental handpiece which is able to operate at a much lower noise level and also runs more smoother.  An efficient dental handpiece does not agitate the tooth as much as the older handpiece.  Also, newer handpiece can make immediate stop once the dentist takes his foot away from the foot pedal controlling the dental handpiece.  This makes the handpiece much safer because the dentist can precisely control the operation and can make emergency stop if the situation requires.  Second, new dental extraction tehcniques are about using less brute force to remove broken teeth by first separating the periodontal ligaments which attaches the tooth to the periodonteum.   Third, there are techniques in making injecting anesthetics more tolerable.  Dentist can first apply the topic anesthetics to pre-numb the injection site.  New knowledge in neural science explains that we can distract the brain from sensing the needle injection.  We can use the manual vibration of the adjacent tissue or use a special device called the Dentalvibe to apply the vibrating force.

In addition, to the above technical aspects of dentistry, patient and dentist can have effective communication so that patient will be able to have a sense of control and this help reduce the dental anxiety.  During the dental procedure, even though the patient is encouraged to sit still to help the dentist to do the dental treatment, patient can use some hand gestures to let the doctor know to temporarily stop the procedure and allow patient to communicate with the doctor.  Also, the patient can request the dentist to explain about the procedures so that the patient can have reasonable mental preparations and proper expectation as to what the next step of the procedure is going to be like.

Ways to do dentistry may have changed but good dentistry is still about providing quality care to patient in a little discomfort as possible.  If the general public can be educated about the newer ways to do dentistry, people can be more receptive of going to see the dentist for the dental care they need.  Instead of postponing necessary dental treatment and allowing the small decay to progress into large decay, people can be less anxious of seeing the dentist and have routine checkup to fix small cavities before they become too big.


Written by Daniel Tee, DDS, MS

Dental Office in Tempe AZ

Serving the city of Tempe, Chandler, Phoenix, Gilbert, and Mesa in Arizona. Practicing General Dentist