Going to the dentist can be a nerve wracking experience for even the most jaded person. Dental anxiety is such a common problem that driving around the Los Angeles area, you can see a large number of billboards advertising gentle dentistry, sleep dentistry, sedation dentistry, no fear dentistry, and even dentistry for cowards. While not all offices are so brazen, we all know that most people do not enjoy coming to the dentist; which is why over the past few decades, the art and science of dentistry has worked hard to help ease people’s fears.
Many people have had a bad experience at the dentist that was either painful or they felt taken advantage of and that makes visiting the dentist, even when a serious problem comes up, feel like a tremendous imposition and threat to their personal well-being. There are even blog posts, such as this one from that describe why people hate going to visit the dentist. However, there are a number of good ways to get over your dentist jitters.
- Remember that Dentists are here to help you: Thanks to movies, comedy skits, and horror stories involving price gouging, imaginary problems, or fearsome instruments, dentists suffer from an often unfair reputation. Many of these misconceptions are born out of exaggerations of truth, but a good, ethical dentist will always be honest about the bill, what issues your mouth does and does not have, and put your comfort foremost.
- Sedation and Sleep Dentistry has come a long way: While nitrous oxide (known as laughing gas) and novacaine/lidocaine/other local anesthetics have been staples in making dental visits more comfortable, you still had the issue of actually enduring the procedure. Even people who are so anxious that they can’t get through a cleaning can rest assured that we have numerous methods of light sedation and even IV sedation at some dentistries, like my own to ensure you have the most comfortable experience possible.
- Seeing a Dentist Today Can Help Avoid Worse Problems (And Anxiety!) Later: Okay, it’s not always feasible to see a dentist today, but the point remains. Whether you are overdue for a cleaning or that toothache is getting worse, you have to see a dentist at some point. Doing so now, even though it may seem scary, can relieve a lot of stress down the line. Many people even report that they realized after getting their teeth cleaned or a problem treated, that the whole ‘ordeal’ was not as bad as they thought it would be. In fact, sometimes the anxiety of facing a dentist for a problem is often worse than the actual experience.
- Talk About It With Someone, Even Your Dentist: Fear of the dentist is so common, that nearly everyone has had anxiety about it. Sometimes a sympathetic ear can help you settle your nerves, and if you are feeling bold, you can talk to your dentist about it. We are here to listen and help you cope and maintain your dental health.
The dentist is no one’s idea of a good time, even other dentists’, but like I said, good, ethical dentists with honest practices are looking out for your well-being and will work with your anxiety, fears, and situation to provide the most pleasant and comfortable experience possible. I would venture to guess that many times, fear of the dentist is often more about fear of the unknown regarding one’s oral health, potential experience, and memories of a potentially bad experience in the past. At my dentistry, your comfort is our priority, regardless of the need and extent of the work being performed, whether it is something as common and routine as a cleaning or getting a filling or as complicated and difficult as a full mouth reconstruction or gumlift.