Working Together To Address Dental Anxiety

The statistics are not hard and fast about dental anxiety, but experts estimate that between 9 and 20 percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of fear.
This fear can come from many places, but our concern at Oregon Smile Care Center is that it can have serious, long-term consequences on your oral health.
Avoiding the dentist can increase the likelihood that you will have a dental emergency in the future. Those aren’t good for anyone.
If you are afraid of the dentist, we want to help you ease your way back into the dentist’s chair. We don’t expect you, and you shouldn’t expect yourself, to overcome your anxiety in a single visit to our office.
We understand that this is a process, and we have helped other patients make that transition — one step at a time — at our dentist office in Salem, OR.
Reasons For Dental Anxiety
You may experience dental anxiety for one reason or a combination of reasons.
A good place to start is identifying the specific thing or things that make it hard for you to get a cleaning. No two patients are the same, but here are some of the more common reasons for dental anxiety:

  • Fear of loss of control — Many people avoid the dentist because they feel like they are no longer in charge of what is happening to them.
  • Fear of pain — This a general category that can include many things. You may be worried about needles or the drill. You may even be concerned about basic cleaning tools if you have particularly sensitive teeth.
  • Fear of embarrassment — If you haven’t been to the dentist in awhile, you may be worried about letting other people look at your teeth. This can make it harder to come back.
  • Fear of judgment — Some patients are concerned that they will be lectured by the dentist.
  • Fear of gagging — This is a common concern, and it can be a bigger worry for people who have a sensitive gag reflex.

We want to start by saying that all of these worries are understandable. You may have had a bad experience with a previous dentist that has contributed to those concerns.
At our office, we want to understand your fears and your concerns. Before you make an appoint, we welcome you to share the things that cause you to feel anxious.
By knowing why you are worried, we can develop a plan to help address those issue if and when you are ready to visit us.
Ways We Can Help
Finding the best approach will vary from patient to patient, but we have tools and techniques that can make your dental care easier to handle.
Some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, but we don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. We can provide anesthesia to numb you so you won’t feel anything during your procedure.
For patients with higher levels of anxiety, we can offer medication to help. This is sometimes called oral conscious sedation. Dental sedation is effective for nearly every patient who tries it.
By taking the medicine before your cleaning or other procedure, you will feel relaxed and somewhat drowsy. You may even fall asleep. In addition to not feeling any pain, you are much less likely to gag when you are sedated.
Many patients have little or no memory of their procedure, which some people think is one of the best benefits of sedation dentistry.
If you do choose oral sedation, then you must arrange for someone else to drive you to and from  your appointment, however.
Whenever possible, we like to help patients without sedation. This starts by creating a supportive atmosphere in our office. Our staff cares about all our patients, and that comes through in how we treat everyone who calls or walks through our doors.
Another option that many patients appreciate is longer appointment times. Scheduling a longer appointment can help you feel more in control. If you need to take a break, we can do that. You don’t have to feel rushed to get through your procedure when you are with us.
How Can We Help You?
This is a question we ask ourselves whenever a patient visits our dentist office in Salem, OR. We want to understand the reasons you feel anxious so we can work with you to address them.
If you would like to learn more about our approach to dentistry, fill out our online contact form or call Oregon Smile Care Center at (503) 809-4784.

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