Did you have a painful experience in the past that makes you afraid of the dentist? Is getting bad news regarding your dental health something you dread? Whatever your reasons are, you definitely aren’t the only one. It is very common for Americans to skip going to see the dentist altogether. Approximately 65 percent visit the dentist. However, some states have much lower percentages. For example, in Mississippi, only 51.9 percent visit the dentist.
This goes beyond just being unfortunate. In fact, it can be quite dangerous. One of the key factors to overall dental health is regular dental visits. According to Jennifer Shin, DDS, a New York City dentist, we use our teeth numerous times a day. They get a lot of abuse, so if you go to see a dentist two times per year, it gives them a chance to assess any changes that need to be addressed. If the problems are discovered early on, there is a higher chance that the solutions will be inexpensive, quick and easy. However, an undiagnosed cavity may result in a toothaches, which requires more expensive and extensive treatments.
Why We Are Afraid Of The Dentist
So why do people avoid visiting the dentist? There are several different reasons:
Cost. One of the major factors that prevents many people from having regular dental checkups done is high prices. According to a recent survey, 44% of individuals who were not going to the dentist was because they didn’t have dental insurance. John Dodes, DDS, author of the book Healthy Teeth: A User’s Guide and Forest Hills, NY dentist, says that if you take good care of your mouth and teeth that your annual dental visits won’t be expensive. He adds that adding a few easy things to your routine such as flossing your teeth and rinsing with Listerine or another therapeutic mouthwash can help to get your mouth healthy and keep it that way.
Dental anxiety. According to David Keen, DDS, a Beverly Hills, California dentist, many people fear the dentist office. He says, there are several things that can be done to help minimize the fear. One thing that can be very effective in making it a positive experience is to discuss your fears with your dentist and listen to nice music to make the environment soothing and pleasant so that it’s more like a spa-like atmosphere. The best method for creating a positive dental experience is usually communication.
Fear of needing to have dental work done. Dr. Dodes says that in his 40 years of practicing dentistry that most patients aren’t afraid of having their teeth cleaned. What they do fear is hearing bad news about dental problems they might have. Denial and avoidance are both very strong emotions that sometimes are a factor into why individuals don’t go to see their dentist as frequently as they should.
Afraid of dental instruments. Dr. Dodes says that the main reason why people are afraid of bad news is because the treatment could be painful or involve a scary procedure that involves scary dental instruments. Fortunately, that isn’t the case very often these days. According to Jeffrey Gross, DDS, a Cleveland area dentist, there are be many advances in dental care in recent years, including laser dentistry, which doesn’t normally require Novocain. In addition, the drills that are used these days are very advanced and there isn’t much discomfort or noise.
Bad memories. Even highly advanced dental equipment and techniques can’t get rid of bad memories from past dental visits. Dr. Gross says that one of the reasons why many people are afraid of dentists is because they were told as children to not be afraid. This actually made them afraid and the fear lasted for many years. Today, dental visit are quite different. Many dentists provide TVs, music and new high-tech procedures to help erase bad memories.
Too busy or too lazy. We all have lots going on in our lives, so sometimes people just simply don’t want to make the effort to visit the dentist. Gross says, we are creatures of habit. If it isn’t something that’s part of our routine, then it just turns into something we need to “get around to.” After skipping one or more visits, it’s not part of our routine anymore. That’s why so many dental offices these days make a big effort to remind people to get their visits set up. There are programs that have been designed to specifically address these issues and solve them.
Afraid of getting lectured. No one want to get a lecture regarding their dental health. If you have neglected brushing and flossing your teeth for a long time, you might be afraid of getting lectured. Dr. Gross says that reprimanding or lecturing is the last thing he thinks of. Those kinds of comments are really counterproductive. Just having to go into the dentist office is enough of a reprimand. However, many patients do fear they are going to get a lecture. This is often caused by guilt since they know they should be doing better, and they just don’t want to hear about it any more.
The best thing you can do to address your personal fears for avoiding going to dentist is to discuss them with your dentist. Let him or her have a chance to reassure you and help you get back on the path to good dental health.