20 Sep 7 Uncommon Dental Fears
Being afraid of going to the dentist is more common than you might realize. But what if you’re afraid of something that doesn’t get talked about much? You could easily believe you’re the only one who feels this way, which makes it more difficult to go to the dentist or talk about your fears. Fears can be triggered by almost anything and can be about nearly everything. Here are a few uncommon dental fears you might not have heard much about until now.
Feeling embarrassed by the state of your teeth is extremely common. Letting it keep you from the dentist or admitting to the fear is less common. Patients with these fears genuinely believe they have the “worst” teeth and their dentist will recoil in horror. In fact, an experienced dentist has seen more than you can imagine. A sensitive dentist won’t make you feel worse about your teeth. Ultimately, we just want to get you better and improve your dental health.
Every medical office or building has its own distinct odor. Think about the last time you walked through a hospital. You know where you are just by the smell. The same can be true with dentists, and some patients associate the smell with their fear. For years, the smell came from eugenol but that’s used less frequently now. If the smell triggers a fearful reaction, make sure you talk to your dentist. They may be able to offer an alternative to help you stay calm such as flavored nitrous oxide.
The Sound of the Drill
While being afraid of the drill and what it can do is pretty common, some people are afraid specifically of the sound it makes. Part of that is because drills used to be really loud which might have frightened someone as a child. Another reason is that the sound you hear in your head (while the drill is in your mouth) is much louder than the reality. Before you lie back in the chair, ask your dentist to run the drill. You may find that your memory played tricks on you, and it’s not as bad as you remember. If the sound still makes you fearful, find out if you can wear earbuds to listen to music or watch a video during your procedure.
The fear of choking tends to come from a feeling of helplessness during your dental procedure. Saliva going down your throat causes fears of drowning. Some people are afraid of the dental tools being lodged in their throat. Other patients may worry the gauze or cotton in their mouth will prevent them from breathing properly. Talk to your dentist about these fears. A saliva ejector (the suction tool) can be used as often as needed. You could wear a dental dam to reassure yourself nothing will go down your throat while the tools or gauze is being used.
Fear and panic can make people cry. It’s not something people want to do, especially in front of a doctor or dentist. So they try really hard to put on a brave face but it can create more anxiety. Now you’re afraid you’ll cry which is the thing you don’t want to do. Do you see how this can be a never-ending cycle? Your dentist hopes you won’t cry, but they’d rather help you through your fears than watch you make yourself miserable. If you need to cry, cry but try not to worry about whether you will or won’t. A compassionate dental office will work with you through the tears.
While many people fear the pain they might feel during a procedure, other patients worry about feeling numb. Not feeling in control is a common reason while simply not liking the sensation is another. Talk to your dentist about how much anesthesia will be required and find out if another option is available. Medications that wear off faster may help relieve the numbness but could leave you in pain sooner.
Because the average person knows very little about dentistry, it makes sense they may be worried that their dentist is prescribing unnecessary treatment. People with fears of the dentist take it to a deeper level and refuse all treatment. To combat this, choose a dentist who is willing to explain what a treatment is, why they recommend it, and how it will be done. They should also share the pros and cons for that specific treatment, as well as alternatives. This fear, like others, comes down to a perception of being out of control. Good, credible information can put you back in control of your medical decisions.
Many dental fears are sparked by previous bad experiences either with an overly stern dentist, unexpected pain, or other moments in and out of the dental chair. A good dentist is willing to work with you through the most uncommon fears and anxieties. Talk to your dentist about dental sedation and work together to create a dental plan that works for you.