The role of a family dentist is diverse, and in many senses, unique. We work with families and so are in a great position to help you understand certain aspects of dentistry, to expand your knowledge, and to work with subjects that others in our profession may consider something to shy away from. One of these subjects is the idea of dental fear. Dental fear is a very real condition that affects millions of people all across the world. In fact, it has been argued that if there is a dentist, the chances are that there are people avoiding the services they offer professionally. This is because dental fear is one of the most intense fears people can have.
Take, for example, people who do visit the dentist. Studies have shown that even among this group, between 9 percent and 20 percent suffer from anxiety and stress when they need a procedure at the family dentist. This anxiety may come from a long absence from the dentist office and a fear that there may be a need for additional treatments to bring your teeth back to perfection. On the other hand, it may just be a general fear of the dentist that many people share. For 26 percent of the population, we know that they will never visit the dentist, despite knowing they need the dentist to improve their quality of life and overall oral health, because of this fear. The only time they will go into a dentist office is if they have an emergency. As a family dentist, it is our job to educate and also to help you find ways to mitigate this fear. We know it is very real since we deal with it from patients every day, and so we have come up with three things you can do to help reduce some of your fear.
How can a family dentist help you conquer a fear of dentistry?
The first step to conquering any fear, including a fear of dentistry, is to learn about it. Dentists practice and train for years before we start working on patients, which means that we take extraordinary care to ensure your procedures are safe, painless, and as comfortable as possible. We want you to ask questions because the more you ask, the more you will know about what we do, how we do it, and how much care we take. We have learned that the more you know, the less likely you are to fear something.
The second step is to identify and isolate what your fear is. Some people are afraid of needles while others are afraid that they will be in pain from the dental procedures. Identifying and narrowing down the source of your fear allows us to take the elephant out of the room and work with or around your fears to make you more comfortable.
Finally, we recommend that you come in, at least, two times each year to see the family dentist for a routine cleaning and examination. This will build familiarity and trust, which are excellent tools in the fight against unnatural fears. The more familiar you are with the work we do and the equipment we use and are able to trust your personal relationship with your family dentist, the more you will find that you are not afraid anymore.