Wednesday, March 16, 2016

When Adults Avoid Dental Visits Out of Fear

Anxiety associated with routine visits to the dentist is very common. Although most of us may associate such fear with small children, it is surprisingly widespread throughout the adult population. Those types of feelings are often the result of a traumatic childhood experience. Oftentimes, those negative past experiences often had nothing to do with a dental visit.

Peter Milgrom, DDS, the director of the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle, reveals that many adults, "have issues for which fear of dentists can be an unpleasant side effect, such as mood or anxiety disorders, substance abuse or posttraumatic stress experienced by war veterans and victims of domestic and childhood abuse."

Unfortunately, those issues prevent millions of American adults from seeking proper preventative dental care. For older individuals, the consequences of avoiding the dentist's chair can have serious ramifications. Dental pain, lost or broken teeth, bad breath, bite problems and gum disease are only the beginning. WebMD and many other sources report that gum disease is now linked to other more serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

So what to do? This is one of those situations where "knowledge is power". Shop around for a dentist who will make you feel at ease and safe while you are under their care. Arm yourself with a few key questions, make some calls and seek out online reviews. Look for these qualities-a dentist who will:

  • Allow you to explain to them about your fears prior to getting started
  • Describe what they are about to do each step of the way, before they begin
  • Establish a signal to allow you to stop the procedure should you feel uncomfortable
  • Make time for an ample number of breaks throughout the procedure

After tracking down a dentist that you feel is a good match, set yourself up for success:

  • Ask a close friend or family member-one who does not share your unease at the dentist-to accompany you.
  • Many offices have distractions available in the treatment rooms, such as music or overhead TVs. However, many patients do well when they use headphones and listen to their own choice of soothing music.
  • Learn a few relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing or visualization
  • Visit online support groups where there are other individuals who share your anxiety.
  • If you are still having a difficult time, it may be a good idea to see a counselor who specializes in assisting people with managing their fears. 

As you begin the process of putting these fears to rest, remember that you are not alone! It is estimated than between 5 to 8 percent of Americans avoid visiting the dentist out of fear.

No comments:

Post a Comment