Anxiety about going to the dentist is a real issue for many people. The Cleveland Clinic states that between 9%-15% of Americans actively avoid going to the dentist due to fear and anxiety. Many people will put up with tooth pain, bleeding gums, and even broken teeth just to avoid seeing a dentist. We understand the fear is real, but we are here to ease those fears and apprehensions. Here are a few common reasons people experience fear and anxiety about seeing a dentist, and what we can do to help.
1. Fear of Pain. This is one of the most prevalent concerns among patients. Tooth pain is why most make dental appointments, so further pain during an exam or procedure spikes their anxieties. However, modern dentistry has means to both control and avoid pain. Not only are the procedures themselves designed for patients’ comfort, but “we can prescribe medications for pain control and comfort,” Dr. Henritze explained.
Communication is key to fighting these anxieties. “99% of my patients that are afraid will let me know right off the bat,” said Dr. Henritze. We encourage our patients to be open and honest with us about what they are experiencing, and to tell us when they’re experiencing discomfort. If the dentist knows you’re in pain, or afraid of being in pain, we can help.
2. Loss of Control. Not everyone has that type A personality where they need to be in control, but there is fear when you can’t see what’s happening in your own mouth. Dr. Henritze hit the nail on the head, saying, “the most important tool in dealing with the anxiety of dental procedures is trust. As a dentist, is it my personal goal to build that relationship of trust between our patients and myself.” The foundation of trust is imperative when dealing with dental phobia and anxieties. Checking reviews online, or asking friends & family for recommendations, can help build trust even before you step foot in the office.
3. Embarrassment. Some patients worry that their dentist will judge the state of their mouth and their dental hygiene habits (or lack thereof). “The mouth is a very personal space and dental exams and procedures are intimate situations,” Dr. Henritze explained. He added, “Getting to know our patients and building those relationships, I find, helps ease the discomfort for the patient.” Again, personal connections are a driving force behind overcoming dental anxieties and are a main focus at Henritze Dental.
4. Negative Past Experiences. Negative experiences, whether 10 years or just a few months ago, stick with us. “We always strive to genuinely understand our patients fears and apprehensions with kindness and consideration,” Dr. Henritze said. “I always talk through the procedure with my patients to make sure they understand everything that is happening, and sometimes things don’t go as planned and I talk then through that, too.” Honesty and transparency are two pillars of our practice, and by centering our work around that we can help create new & positive experiences for our patients.
Many discomforts, physical or emotional, factor into people’s feelings toward dental work. Dr. Henritze often hears “I hate the dentist”, but it’s not the dentist people dislike, it’s the dental work. Let us ease those fears; we would be honored to be trusted with your dental needs. We encourage you to give us a call or visit our website to make an appointment. Even if it is simply a consultation to discuss your anxieties, our doors are open.