It is estimated that up to 75% of adults in the United States have some kind of dental phobia, ranging from mild to extreme. About 5 to 10% of adults in the United States suffer from dental phobia, which means they are so afraid of getting dental treatment that they avoid it at all costs. Many people who are afraid of the dentist will only seek treatment if they have a dental emergency, such as a toothache or a dental abscess. People who are afraid of dental care frequently go through a “period of avoidance,” in which they avoid going to the dentist because they are afraid, until they have a dental emergency that necessitates intrusive treatment, which may reinforce their fear of dentistry. You may want to check out Alsbury Dental for more.
Women are more afraid of the dentist than men, and younger people are more afraid of the dentist than older people. More invasive procedures, such as oral surgery, are reported to be more frightening than less invasive treatments, such as professional dental cleanings or prophylaxis.
Direct and indirect experiences have been discovered to be the two primary causes of dental anxiety in patients.
The most common way for people to develop dental phobias is through direct experience. We discovered that the majority of people say their dental phobia started as a result of a stressful, difficult, or painful dental experience. Of course, these aren’t the only causes for dental phobia. Another consideration is the dentist’s perceived demeanour as “impersonal,” “uncaring,” “uninterested,” or “cold,” while dentists who are perceived as friendly and loving help to alleviate the fear induced by painful procedures.
Vicarious learning, mass media, stimulus generalisation, helplessness, and a sense of loss of control are all examples of indirect experience. Hearing about other people’s unpleasant and upsetting experiences at their dentist’s office can cause anxiety by vicarious learning. In television shows and children’s cartoons, dentistry is portrayed in a negative light.
Another indirect experience that causes a patient to develop a fear as a result of a previous traumatic experience in a non-dental sense is stimulus generalisation. A patient’s traumatic experience at hospitals or general practise physicians who wear white coats and have antiseptic fumes in their offices is a significant contributor to stimulus generalisation. Wearing clothing that isn’t so “lab coatish” is one way that many dental practitioners have been countering this perception.
When an individual feels they have no power over a negative event, they experience helplessness and perceived loss of control. According to research, fear is exacerbated by a sense of loss of power, whereas fear is significantly reduced by a sense of control. For example, a dentist who instructs a patient to lift their hand during a procedure to show discomfort so that the dentist or hygienist can interrupt the procedure can create a much less fearful and anxious patient, resulting in a more positive overall experience, which will encourage the patient to return for further care.
Comfortable “massage” chairs, using the “say, show, do” method, music via headphones, encouraging their patients to bring in their own ipods, and even televisions in each operatory allowing the patient to pick what they would like to see during their operation are only a few of the fantastic methods that modern day dentists are introducing to alleviate fear and anxiety. Both of these methods gives the impression of friendliness and warmth to the patient, making them feel more “at ease” and comfortable during a potentially stressful procedure.
One of our most profitable clients has an in-house masseuse who can help patients relax by giving them a brief massage before any dental procedure. Although this approach hasn’t been embraced by many dental practises, it has proven to be a very successful way of reducing patient discomfort and anxiety for this particular dentist. The availability of an on-site masseuse gives patients something to dream about after they exit the dentist’s office. By having a good experience with a personal masseuse at their dentist’s office, they will make meaningful recommendations to friends and family.