A message from Dr. Kathryn Alderman to patients with dental phobia:
“Dental phobia is easy for many to balk at, but I understand that it is a very real condition that many patients suffer from.
No matter what the reason is, I am sensitive to a patient’s fears and will take the time to talk with you and help you feel at ease. Unfortunately, many people have let their oral condition deteriorate as a result of their fear or anxiety and wait to come in until they are in pain or their condition is seemingly at its worst.
Let me and my caring staff take care of you now so that we can help you avoid more serious problems like periodontal (gum) disease, severe pain, tooth loss, or more expensive treatment.
As a modern, technically advanced practice, we have the ability to use many different techniques and methods to make sure you are comfortable and help you overcome your dental phobia!”
Reasons for a dental phobia or dental anxiety:
There are a multitude of reasons to explain dental phobia or anxiety. From the atmosphere or sterile smell to a negative experience in the past that a patient will never forget.
Whatever it may be, there are millions of individuals who suffer from a dental phobia. The following are a few of the more common reasons you may be anxious or fearful about going to the dentist:
- Past Experience – One of the most common reasons for dental phobia we see is the patient has had a negative experience in the past that has scarred their perception of dentists for life. It could have been a painful or traumatic experience where the patient felt pain or out of control.
- Embarrassment/Fear of Ridicule – When you are fearful of going to the dentist or perhaps are just too busy and time has slipped away, you may be reluctant to make an appointment for fear that you will be judged based on the state of your oral health or ridiculed by the dentist or hygienist about your lack of care/regular visits.We understand how easily life passes you by and will never scold you or make you feel bad about your oral health condition. We are always happy to see patients no matter their condition because once they are in our office, we know they have made the best choice to be seen and take care of their mouth!
- Dental Instruments – You may be fearful of dental instruments or having them placed in your mouth. The mouth is a very personal and sensitive area. Having dental instruments placed in your mouth may cause a claustrophobic feeling or trigger a gag reflex.
- Uncaring Dentist or Staff – If you have had a past experience with a dentist or his/her staff that was uncaring or unsympathetic to your feelings or needs, this can certainly be the cause of a dental phobia as you likely could have felt unheard and out of control.
- Negative Press – People love to talk about negative experiences they’ve had or heard of happening and in this day and age people “Google” or “YouTube” everything! If you have never seen a dentist or it has been a long time, your phobia could very well come from fear of the unknown or negative press from the TV, radio, or what you have heard from friends and family.
Whether you identify with one of the reasons above, a combination, or have dental phobia for another reason not listed, there is something that can be done to help you! Below are some things that we can do for you as well as what you can do to help ease your anxiety:
- Communication – Please let me and my team know what your concerns are. I will listen to your fears and help to put you at ease. Sometimes simply talking about your anxiety can be the first step to relieving some of your fear. We will lend a sympathetic ear and neither my team nor I will ever belittle your fears or make you feel silly for your dental phobia.
- Procedure Explanation – Many dental procedures can sound or appear scary simply because you do not know what they are or what all they entail. I will explain procedures in non dental language that is easy for you to understand and allow time for you to ask questions before we begin treatment.I am always happy to explain the steps of a procedure through the course of treatment so that you feel comfortable and in the know.
- Express Your Feelings or Embarrassment – If you are embarrassed of your oral condition, please let me and my team know. I can guarantee that in my years of practice, I will have probably seen teeth in a worse state. Regardless of your oral condition, my team and I recognize that you have taken the right step by visiting our office.
- Relaxation and Distraction Techniques – I will use different relaxation and distraction techniques to help you throughout your time in our office. We work to make the office smell less clinical and have pillows and blankets available for your comfort during treatment. Music and television or a movie is available as well as headphones to help block out dental noises. Sedation dentistry is also an option for patients.
- Pain-free Injection Technique – I will start off applying a topical anesthetic gel that will help numb the area where the injection will be given. The anesthetic will then be administered very slowly to help relieve pressure typically associated with injections rendering the possibility of the injection being painless. I will walk you through the anesthetic process, ensuring you are comfortable every step of the way.
Our team has a caring, gentle touch that makes taking care of nervous patients something we specialize in. We pride ourselves on helping you to feel comfortable and gain more and more confidence with each visit to our office. No matter the reason for your dental phobia, I assure you that my team and I will take the best care of you, addressing your concerns every step of the way.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Dr. Kathryn Alderman