Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Scared of the Dentist

Approximately half of the US population will not make routine dental visits. They will only visit a dentist when there is an emergency. There are many reasons for this. One of the biggest reasons is that patients are simply scared. Visiting the dentist doesn't have to be painful nor stressful.

I often hear new patients state that they hate dentists. They tell me it's nothing personal.  Many expect their experience will be horrific. This is almost never the case. The vast majority of our patients soon realize that they had nothing to be scared of.

Why do some people hate visiting the dentist? Well, we often hear negative comments in the media about horrific or potentially horrific root canals. They'll say that some upcoming event may be like pulling teeth. Often times they'll cite negative childhood experiences. In many cases, some people play one-upmanship games as to whom has had the worst dental experiences. Many times, parents will give their children bad vibes about going to the dentist and thereby influencing and sabotaging their child's upcoming dental visit. They don't do this intentionally. They'll transmit their own fears onto their children with non-verbal communication. Parents that are fearful of dentists almost always have children that are fearful of dentists. It's noteworthy to mention that parents that have good feelings about dentistry rarely have children that are fearful of dentistry.

A relaxed and comfortable child

We can't just tell people to not be fearful. It doesn't work. We have to prove to them that what we do does not hurt. As I mentioned before, root canals have a bad reputation. People will wait to come in only when they are in significant pain. In some of these cases, they will need to have a root canal to salvage the tooth. They'll associate the pain and the root canal and assume that root canals hurt. But just like any other procedure, they don't hurt.You don't have to be tough, you just have to be numb.

So what can we do if we can't change your mind about dentistry? SEDATION! This option will allow the super scared patients to address their oral needs in comfort. I will discuss sedation in a separate blog.

The very sight of a needle can be incredibly scary for some people. Many dentists now offer painless injections using computerized anesthetic technology.  The equipment used in computerized administered anesthetic looks like a ball point pen and it delivers a very slow and controlled dose for a painless (or nearly painless) experience.

In conclusion, you don't have to be scared. If you are scared, sedation is an option that will allow you to address your oral health. The demeanor and actions of the dentist and his team are also important. Go forth and get your mouth in shape.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit


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