Does the thought of visiting the dentist fill you with dread? Maybe you’re afraid of procedures like fillings or crowns, or maybe even the prospect of a cleaning triggers anxiety. If going to the dentist (or even thinking about going to the dentist) causes fear or stress for you, you’re not alone. In fact, studies have indicated that 36% of the population suffers from dental fear, and another 12% suffers from extreme dental fear.
The Risks of Dental Anxiety
Unfortunately, your anxiety isn’t the only negative side effect that comes with fear of the dentist. There are a number of ways that dental anxiety can affect your oral health:
You might avoid cleanings. If you’re afraid of visiting the dentist, you may skip your recommended regular cleanings and checkups. These cleanings not only remove tartar buildup (hardened plaque that you can’t remove with a toothbrush at home), but they also give your dentist an opportunity to make sure you’re not developing tooth decay, gum disease, or other oral health problems that need to be addressed before they get worse. Plus, your dentist is also performing overall health-related screenings during your checkup, like an oral cancer screening.
You may put off important procedures. After summoning up the courage to go in for a cleaning, it may seem like cruel and unusual punishment to ask you to come back in for a filling or other treatment. Unfortunately, most of the procedures your dentist may recommend to you will only get worse the longer you put them off. Tooth decay might only require a filling now, but if you don’t deal with it, you might need a much more serious procedure later, like a root canal or even need to be extracted.
You may opt for the “easier” route. Often, those with dental anxiety who have oral health problems will choose whichever treatment seems faster or less serious, even if that treatment isn’t the ideal treatment. For example, having a tooth extracted may seem like an easier, less scary option than getting a root canal. Unfortunately, missing teeth can cause oral health complications of their own, and your natural teeth are one-of-a-kind — so they’re very important to protect. Usually an extraction is a last resort, used only when the natural tooth can’t be saved.
It sounds counterintuitive, but if you let your fear of the dentist keep you from seeing the dentist regularly and listening to their recommendations, you could end up facing much more serious dental problems and procedures in the future as a result.
Sedation Dentistry Makes it Easy
Luckily, there’s a simple answer: Sedation dentistry. With a safe, gentle sedative, you can get through any appointment or procedure without feeling any anxiety or stress. This kind of treatment can even break the cycle of fear for some patients, helping them tackle future appointments without sedation. Dr. Bob offers three different types of sedation, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. With sedation dentistry, you can get the dental care you need — without the fear. And since he’s a member of DOCS (Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation) you can be confident that he’s following the latest procedures for safe, effective sedation dentistry.