I know I need to see a dentist logically. I know how important it is to take care of your teeth. While I do my absolute best to take care of my teeth at home, I have this nagging feeling it’s not enough. A friend of mine, whose father is a dentist, said that these days no one should lose teeth. If you just brush and see your dentist your teeth will be fine. After they mentioned that, I felt tremendous fear. I’m afraid of losing my teeth. The problem I face is I’m also afraid of going to the dentist. Not just afraid. Terrified. I’ve considered seeing a therapist, but it’s close to $100 an hour in my area and they said it can sometimes take years to get over phobias. I don’t have that kind of money. Have you encountered patients who were very afraid but were able to get past it? What did they do to help themselves get through the door and actually into the chair?
Please don’t be so hard on yourself. Let me assure you that many patients have felt as you do. Every dentist has patients with dental anxiety. We once saw a patient have a panic attack just because she walked in the door. I’m happy to tell you that patient now comes regularly and cheerfully. I’m sure you want to know her secret.
When she struggled we first helped her get her breath back. We told her how proud we were that she was making an effort to come despite her fear. You’re making that same effort and should be proud of the steps you’re taking to find help.
After her heart rate was back to normal and she felt secure, we told her about sedation dentistry. This enabled her to get the dental care she needed without fear and without pain. In fact, most patients are so relaxed they sleep through the entire appointment.
Too often patients with dental anxiety wait until they’re in major pain to come in. By then, they have a dental emergency and need much more extensive care than a simple cleaning. Most of the time they end up needing a root canal treatment because an infection developed. Other times, the damage is so extensive they have to have the tooth extracted. Then they’re looking at tooth replacement options, the best of which requires surgery and months of healing.
I’m glad you’re not waiting until you’re in severe pain. Do you remember that woman I mentioned earlier? Now when she walks in the door she says, “It’s time for my nap!”
Believe me, you can also feel good about the dentist again.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Darshan Naidu.