Home/Blog / Fear of Dentistry and Its Solution


Fear of Dentistry and Its Solution

Did you know that between 30 and 40 million Americans avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety and fear?  Dental phobia is a common problem, and it prevents many people from seeking the dental care they need.

Risks of Dental Fear

For some people, fear of the dentist is so severe that it keeps them from getting even the most basic dental care, like a professional teeth cleaning.  Fear and anxiety over dental treatment causes many people to suffer through the unnecessary pain of cavities, broken teeth, and gum disease because they cannot bear the thought of dental work.

People who are anxious or scared of dental work often lose sleep the night before an appointment with their dentist or feel like crying at the thought of an appointment.  Other people panic at the idea of having the dentist’s hands or instruments in their mouths.

Dental Disease Unchecked

When fear causes someone to neglect preventive dental care, dental diseases like cavities and periodontal disease can progress unchecked for years.  Preventive dentistry involves consistent check-ups with regular professional teeth cleanings.  At these visits, Dr. Ann, Dr. Lauren, Nancy and Phyllis will closely evaluate your entire mouth and discuss any risk factors or red flags they see.  By catching dental problems early, repairing them is less extensive and less expensive.

If you suffer from dental anxiety or fear, preventive dental care is the best thing you can do to keep your need for dental treatment to a minimum.  Use your desire to avoid dental work motivate you to take great care of your teeth and gums!

Unfortunately, waiting until something hurts is waiting far too long.  When cavities hurt, they have usually gotten so big that the nerve of the tooth is infected.  When gum disease hurts, teeth are at risk for becoming loose and falling out.  The treatment for teeth that have reached this stage is more complicated and involved than preventive dentistry.

Medical Emergencies

Dental anxiety can also create dangerous health situations.  Patients with severe anxiety are more likely to suffer from a medical emergency in the dental office.  This includes asthma attacks, hyperventilating, fainting, spikes in blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.  Obviously, these are very serious situations.

At Designer Smiles, your health and safety is our top priority.  In order to ensure that we take the best possible care of you in our office, please make sure to inform us when you feel anxious or afraid.  Fear and anxiety must be addressed to lower the risk of emergencies like these.

Solution to Dental Fear

We understand that many people have suffered from dental disease and neglect as a result of their fear of dentistry.  If you are in need of extensive dental work and also suffer from extreme dental anxiety and fear, we have the solution for you.

Dr. Ann has just completed the rigorous five-stage program of study under Dr. Daniel Becker to earn her certification in intravenous sedation.  Through this intense process of learning, testing, and training, Dr. Ann received the highest level of training available for dentists today in this field.

IV sedation involves the use of sedative medications to “put someone to sleep” for a dental procedure.  It surprises most people to learn that intravenous sedation is actually safer than sedation with an oral medication (i.e. taking a pill or having a pill dissolve under the tongue).  Oral medications are absorbed into the bloodstream at different rates in different people.  With an IV, the level of the medicine in the bloodstream is immediate and precise, making dosages more accurate and predictable.  Accuracy = Safety!

What IV Sedation Is

IV sedation is the administration of a sedative medication directly into the bloodstream.  This level of sedation allows patients to sleep through every bit of a long or extensive dental procedure.  Patients have no memory of the work done, even if they do seem to wake up during the dental work.

IV sedation is safe and predictable.  It also has a lingering effect that keeps the patient mildly sedated for the entire day, so after you leave the dental office, you will go home and sleep more.

What IV Sedation Is Not

IV sedation is not general anesthesia.  Patients with IV sedation still breathe on their own without the need for help from a breathing machine.  It is a mild level of sedation that allows the body to continue almost all of its normal functions, like simply being asleep.

IV sedation is not the same thing as what many dentists advertise as “sedation dentistry”.  Most dental practices use only oral sedation, which is a sedative pill that puts some people to sleep and reduces awareness during a dental procedure.  Oral sedation is much harder to titrate to a precise level in the bloodstream because people metabolize drugs differently.  The dosage of an oral medication that completely knocks one person out may cause another person to feel slightly drowsy.  In some patients, an oral pill will kick in within 30 minutes; for others, it can be hours.  Oral sedation is very unpredictable and inaccurate.

Do You Need IV Sedation for Dental Work?

Here are some questions to determine whether or not you need IV sedation for dental work.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should consider IV sedation for your next major dental procedure.  Call Designer Smiles today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ann Haggard.  She will assess your dental needs and discuss the option of IV sedation with you.