Why are Some People Afraid of the Dentist?

If you’re like most people, you may not exactly look forward to visiting the dentist, but it also doesn’t cause you any overwhelming distress either. However, there is a smaller but significant portion of the U.S. population that has such negative emotions associated with the dentist that they avoid receiving dental care until a problem has reached an emergency stage. Today, we’re examining three commonly cited causes of dental fear and looking at how sedation dentistry can help alleviate those unpleasant emotions.

Bad Past Experiences at the Dentist’s Office

Dentists today spend a lot of time learning how to maximize the comfort of their patients. From coffee bars in the waiting room to warm blankets and noise-cancelling headphones in the treatment rooms, modern dentistry has an almost spa-like quality. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. Just a couple of decades ago, dentistry was more treatment-focused than patient-focused. As a result, patient education and patient comfort weren’t prioritized and many people came to associate dental visits with feeling cold, exposed, uninformed, and uncomfortable.

They Don’t Know Enough

Children tend to feel nervous the first time they go to the dentist’s office because it’s an unfamiliar experience and they don’t know what to expect. An adult who has never received professional dental care (or who hasn’t visited the office since childhood) often has similar feelings of unease and anxiety prompted by a fear of the unknown. Talking to friends and doing some basic online research can often help nervous patients relax a bit more prior to their appointment.

They Know Too Much

Of course, talking to the wrong friend or ending up on the wrong website can end up reinforcing or even exacerbating a person’s fear of the dentist. Doing consumer research online is a mixed blessing: to a point, it can help you become familiar – and, thus, more comfortable – with what to expect from your appointment. However, too much information or misrepresented information can have an opposite effect, making an already nervous patient even more fearful of what’s in store for them. As a general rule, stick with reliable sources of dental information, like the American Dental Association, and avoid video sites like YouTube or image searches.

How Your Dentist Can Help

Professional dental care is vitally important to maintaining a healthy, attractive smile throughout your lifetime and avoiding problems like bad breath or missing teeth. If fear or anxiety has prevented you from visiting the dentist, sedation dentistry options, like nitrous oxide and oral sedation, can help you relax throughout your treatment.

About Shawn Hofkes, DDS

With advanced training in oral and maxillofacial surgery and certification in oral and IV sedation, Shawn Hofkes, DDS provides sedation dentistry services from our state-of-the-art dentist office in Cerritos, CA. To schedule your appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.