New Year Resolution? Dentistry Fears


An estimated 20% of Americans experience enough anxiety that they will go the dentist only when absolutely necessary.

Peter Milgrom, DDS, Director of the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington and author of Treating Fearful Dental Patients shares tips to help you overcome your fear of the oral surgery and dental chair.

The ‘Root’ Causes

Here are the primary fears for patients that can cause them to delay or avoid seeking preventative and emergency dental care:

  • 2/3 of patients relate their fear to a bad experience in the dentist’s or oral surgeon’s office.
  • 1/3 of patients have various mood or anxiety disorders, substance abuse, or post-traumatic stress, victims of domestic violence, and victims of childhood abuse.

A  fear of dentists and oral surgeons stems not so much from the experience of pain as from the lack of control that patients experience in the dentist’s chair, says Ellen Rodino, PhD, a psychologist who studied dental fear. Dentists and oral surgeons are partly to blame when they create unnecessary anxiety in patients because they assume that all patients have similar pain thresholds and will handle dental procedures in the same way.

At McGann Facial Design, trust between patient and doctor is key and we take all the necessary steps to help our patients with undue fear about their procedures. Here are some of the ways we try to alleviate fear in our patients:

  1. We explain precisely every step of a procedure, what they will feel, and for how long.
  2. We frequently ask the patient for permission to continue.
  3. We give the patient the opportunity to stop the procedure at any time that the patient feels uncomfortable.
  4. We provide a soothing “non-medical” look and feel waiting room, free of treatment posters that may cause anxiety.
  5. We provide a unique “Smile Lab” designed to enable patients to mentally transition before receiving actual oral surgery care.

The Patient Is In Charge

A past WebMD article interviewed several dental and psychological experts and we have summarized their tips on how patients can overcome a fear of dental and oral surgery treatments:

  • Ask to speak with the dentist and oral surgeon directly to discuss your fear. Don’t get blocked by the receptionist. Be honest about your fear and speak to your dentist or oral surgeon.
  • Chances are, visiting your dentist or oral surgeon won’t be nearly as painful as you expect- according to before and after surveys.

Do you have a fear of oral surgery and you need to talk with someone about overcoming this fear? Contact McGann Facial Design and we can talk about this fear together and map out the best treatment plan for you.

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