What’s difficult for us is that few people look forward to a spell in our dentist chair. It’s no secret that serious anxiety prevents millions of Americans from seeking proper preventative care. The consequences of this problem may go far beyond dental pain or lost teeth. What patient’s don’t realize is that we have operatories, while physicians have exam rooms. In an operatory, we operate. We are on deck from the moment we start our day.
And yet in a recent survey by the American Dental Association, 41 percent of respondents said they were not planning to visit a dentist because they experience anxiety over dental visits. This is more than likely because dentists treat patients right then and there on the fly.
Between 5% and 8% of Americans avoid dentists out of fear, estimates Peter Milgrom, DDS, director of the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle and author of Treating Fearful Dental Patients. A higher percentage, perhaps 20%, experiences enough anxiety that they will go to the dentist only when absolutely necessary, Milgrom tells WebMD. And we get it, because we don’t just examine you, we diagnose and treat you on the spot.
Fear of dentists 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 in Santa Monica, Calif., who has studied dental fear. “You’re lying prone, a dentist is hovering above you, [you’re awake] and he’s putting you in a situation where you can hardly talk or respond. That creates a lot of anxiety for some people because they don’t feel in control.”
Fortunately, we are specially trained in handling fearful patients; a variety of methods and treatments are available to reduce pain and alleviate fear in our dentist chairs. Give us a call for your next appointment.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
ZoAnna Scheinfeld, MS, DMD
Hanna Orland, DMD
290 Carpenter Drive, 200A
Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA 30328
3781 Chamblee Dunwoody Road
Chamblee, GA 30341