Fear of dental procedures is quite common in the general population. Studies show that over 70% of patients have a history of at least one painful dental visit. Most of us can probably recall a less than pleasant experience from our dental past – me included! For some of us, those experiences range from uncomfortable to painful to truly frightening and even trauma-inducing. It is difficult to find your way back into a dental chair if the body is still keeping the score of past dental trauma.
The Difference Between Dental Anxiety and Phobia
The line is sometimes hard to draw, but dental phobias usually present with an INTENSE fear of dental settings, which may include panic attacks, hyperventilation, crying at the thought of having dental work done, and/or extreme hesitancy to simply come in for a visit. Patients with dental phobia tend to avoid dental visits at all costs until something happens such as a broken tooth or an infection.
As a functional dentist, I strongly believe in prevention strategy, and I feel it is very important to offer various modalities of fear management to support patients for whom visiting the dentist means facing some level of trauma. In my experience, avoiding the dentist will only make things worse in the long run. So how can we help you address your dental fears?
The approach to managing dentistry-related fears ranges from natural ways of supporting patients for those with mild to moderate dental anxiety to full sedation for those patients dealing with extreme dental phobia.
- Natural approach: include tapping, breathing, Bach flower essences, and essential oils.
- Pharmacological approach: for patients with moderate to severe anxiety, we may recommend taking anti-anxiety medications. After the initial examination, Dr. Bergan will prescribe anti-anxiety drugs such as diazepam (Valium). You will be awake and able to communicate, yet your nervous system will be relaxed.
- Full sedation: lastly, for the patients with special needs, severe gag reflex, feelings of claustrophobia, a fear of needles (aichmophobia), or dental phobia, we offer in-office general anesthesia. We work with a highly trained dental anesthesiologist who will put you to sleep for the entire length of the dental procedure. You will not feel or remember anything.
Together we can choose what level of support will be best for your experience! Call our office at (303) 499-0367 to schedule your visit.