It is estimated that up to 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of dental phobia. Let’s face it, no one likes going to the dentist and some anxiety when going to the dentist is normal. But a dental phobia is even more serious. The patient feels terrified and panic stricken, and while most realize that this is not totally rational, they don’t feel like there’s anything that can be done to alleviate the phobia. Unfortunately, the result of this underlying terror causes many people to avoid the dentist completely. This not only leads to poor oral health, but be detrimental to one’s overall health.
In fact, insufficient, ongoing oral health practices can cause life expectancy to be reduced by an average of 12 years mainly because it makes one much more prone to cardiovascular disease. Some people don’t go to the dentist for years until an emergency forces them into action. Poor oral hygiene can also cause self-esteem issues because of unsightly teeth or bad breath.
Symptoms of Dental Phobia
- Not being able to sleep the night before a dental appointment.
- Nervousness that escalates, especially in the waiting room. This can manifest in bouts of extreme agitation, crying, having trouble breathing or even becoming physically ill.
- Severe panic attacks.
- Becoming anxious when even thinking or talking about going to the dentist.
Fear of pain, fear of needles, fear of drilling, or even shaming comments by dental personnel, and self-consciousness about the appearance or condition of teeth are all reasons that contribute to dental phobia. Loss of control is another common fear. The good news is that most of these issues can be overcome by first just sitting down and talking with your dentist.
How to Deal with Dental Phobia
If your dentist doesn’t take your fears seriously or doesn’t want to help ease your mind, then FIND ANOTHER DENTIST. A good dentist will take the time to address your worries and the two of you can discuss what will help YOU to get through your visits without being terrified the entire time.
For example, would you like them to explain what they are doing as they are doing it? Just ask. Lots of dentists use the “hand signal” technique which means that all you have to do is just raise your hand if you want them to stop doing something or ask them a question. Listening to music also helps to drown out the sounds associated with being in the dentist chair and can also take your mind off of what is going on. You can also practice breathing techniques to help keep you relaxed and calmer. And know that you are not alone; click HERE (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4233415) to read more about dental phobia from the National Institute of Health.
At Southtown Dental, we believe in treating our patients like family and this includes doing everything possible to make your experience here a pleasant one.
Dr. Guillory has treated over 19,000 SATISFIED patients. And while Dr. Lopez is newer to our Southtown family, she started out here as a patient when she was a child. So she’s learned from the best through her own experiences!
We are respectful of your fears and take them seriously. For example:
- We use a numbing gel first, so that you barely feel the shot, if at all.
- Our dentists NEVER work on your teeth if they are sensitive until everything is numb.
- We encourage you to bring your headphones and listen to music.
- We also offer anti-anxiety meds when this needed.
Dr. Guillory and Dr. Lopez will also prescribe anti-pain medications so that you are as comfortable as possible after your dental procedures. In addition to our “family” approach, we stay up to date on the latest technologies so you are always receiving the benefits of what’s new.
Come Visit Us in Downtown San Antonio
Our offices are located in an old, historic home and do not have that cold, sterile feel of a doctor’s office. In fact, if you come early, you’ll have some time to walk around and enjoy the King William District in downtown San Antonio. Your oral health and satisfaction are priorities for us! Give us a call and let us know what your fears are. We will take the time necessary to ease your mind. And as always, please check out the independent reviews of our practice to see what other patients are saying about us. We look forward to seeing you smile again!