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Who's Afraid of the Big, Dad...Dentist??

It may come as a surprise to some, but dental fear affects 5-8% of all individuals, causing them to avoid seeing their dentist completely. Another 20% will see their dentist only in the case of a dental emergency or when it’s otherwise absolutely necessary.

This can lead to very negative health consequences, as regular dental check ups do more than just keep your mouth healthy. Seeing your dentist at least once every six months can also lead to early detection of oral cancer, which can be fatal, and treatment of early-stage gum disease such as gingivitis, which has been linked to everything from tooth loss, to infertility, breast cancer, and heart disease.

There are many reasons people report feeling fearful of dental visits. These include bad past experiences during a dental appointment or other underlying issues such as an anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, having been a victim of physical abuse, or substance abuse.

It’s interesting to note that most dental fear does not come from having experienced pain. It actually stems from the lack of control a patient may feel while undergoing treatment.

There are many ways to help those with a fear of the dentist become more comfortable. Patients who know they have trouble handing their anxiety around dental visits should take back control of the situation by voicing their concerns directly to their dental practitioner. Being open about the anxiety or fear, and asking how they can be made more comfortable, is a great first step in easing dental fear. Whether that means making sure their dentist or hygienist takes the time to completely explain the procedure; visiting the office on a non-appointment day for a tour of the facilities; asking for specific pain control methods; or even asking to use a distracting device such as an iPod during an appointment are all perfectly acceptable ways to help control dental anxiety.

A good dentist will always make sure their patient is comfortable before performing any type of dental procedure. Taking the time to do so should include:

- Explaining thoroughly and calmly what the patient will soon feel, and for about how long. - Frequently asking the patient for permission to continue. - Giving the patient the opportunity to stop the procedure at any time the patient feels uncomfortable. - Making time to stop for breaks as requested by the patient. - Maintaining a patient and supportive demeanor throughout the procedure.

If you have concerns such as fear and anxiety around dental work, give Dr. Kotre’s Ann Arbor dental office a call today at 734-677-2156. We are happy to speak with you about your concerns, and will do everything possible to make you comfortable during your visit.


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