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Dr. Edwards' Blog

Are you turning into a dental phobic? -- August 11, 2011

I already know most of my patients aren't crazy about coming to see me.  They can think of better things to do than come in and let me work on their teeth.  And eventhough you may not like the dentist, most people know how important regular visits are.

Important or not, though, new research says about 20% of people worldwide have dental fear.  That means about 35 million adults have so much anxiety about dental visits that they worry, postpone or don't even show up for their appointments.  These figures come from the University of Washington Dental Fears Research Clinic in Seattle.  Peter Milgrom, DDS, clinic director said dental fears peak around middle age.

But how do you know if you've crossed the line from just disliking the dentist or what the dentist is going to do to having dental fear?  Dr. Milgrom said, "The issue is whether a person can maintain their dental health, use a dentist if needed, without terrible foreboding or running away."

The most common dental fears relate to pain, fear of allergic reactions to local anesthetic or to drilling.  About two-thirds of dental fears come from patients who had frightening experiences at the dentist when they were children.

Sometimes dental fears are associated with other mental health conditions.  Patients with a history of sexual or physical abuse will often be afraid of being tipped backwards and losing control.  Feelings of helplessness and loss of control are the main reasons patients avoid the dentist.

Because the incidence of dental anxiety is so high, I, along with many other dentists offer various forms of sedation.  They range from making you very relaxed, yet still awake, to IV sedation which puts you to sleep. 

While sedation can be very effective, there are side effects and additional costs usually not covered by insurance.  Some patients who can't afford sedation have found relief from their anxiety by using another tool offered here at Optima Dental Group.  I invented something called The Dental Button.  It gives patients the control to stop my drill if they're feeling anxiety, pain or simply need to take a break from a dental procedure.  Two years of research shows The Dental Button can reduce dental anxiety by 50-80% and up to 100% in extremely fearful patients.

If you're axious about seeing the dentist, I invite you to try The Dental Button at Optima Dental Group.  You might be surprised at just how relaxing a trip to the dentist can be.


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