If you have ever felt that unwanted pit in your stomach while scheduling a dental appointment, you are not alone. Studies have shown that about 36% of people in the United States have a fear of dental procedures, including 12% being classified as having an extreme fear. This type of anxiety can cause us to avoid important routine healthcare checkups, essential procedures, and ignore potential oral problems to delay seeing a dentist or oral surgeon. It’s important to know we understand and want to do our very best to provide the tools and resources that can help ease fear and anxiety before, during, and after visiting our office.
Why Do We Experience it?
Identifying where these anxious feelings are coming from is the first step in working through that pre-appointment anxiety. Whether you begin to feel anxious surrounding all medical fields or specifically oral care, a number of different factors can be influencing your distress. Most commonly, patients feel anxiety surrounding three different situations.
- Fear of the Unknown. Within any part of life, participation in unknown situations can introduce a certain level of anxiety. Specifically in medicine, unknown factors include variables like level of diagnosis, procedure requirements, negative side-effects, and prolonged loss of daily function.
- Loss of Control. As humans, having control over our choices and bodily autonomy is extremely important to feel safe and secure. Sometimes in medicine, things can feel out of our control, in turn causing feelings of distress and fear.
- Pain and Process. This is a big one – pain and process. Many questions run through our heads asking things like “how bad will it hurt,” or “what tools do they have to use.” Extremely common and completely understandable, sitting in a medical office wondering how much pain you might endure can greatly increase anxiety.
Great – now we’ve identified some elements as to why you might be avoiding scheduling that overdue dental checkup or oral procedure. Proper oral healthcare is exceptionally important, as poor hygiene has been linked to other conditions like diabetes and cardiac conditions. This means we want to help you combat your fears and welcome you into the office with as little anxiety as possible.
What We Can Do
As an oral surgery clinic, comfortable, safe, and painless care is our main priority. Spending the time to make certain our patients feel confident in our abilities will work to reduce feelings of anxiety and fear.
- Education. As mentioned previously, a primary cause of dental anxiety is fear of the unknown and potential discomfort. Combating these things can only be done with proper patient education and clear communication. During your consultation, leading up to your appointment, during the procedure, and following post-op, your care team will walk you through the process and discuss any concerns you may have. We are at your disposal, please ask any questions that pop into your mind, no matter how big or small they may seem.
- Quality Support Systems. Facing fear alone can make it more difficult to work through. Identifying people who can offer support before and after your appointments will help combat those anxious thoughts and feelings. Please reach out to our office if we can be of support to you.
- Counseling. 12% of people experience extreme fear of dental procedures. If you feel this might apply to you, don’t hesitate to find a mental health professional that specializes in fear and phobias.
Remember, proper oral care is an important aspect of our overall health. We understand that fear and anxiety, especially within medical organizations, can be quite the mountain to climb. It’s very important to find a dental office or oral surgeon that prioritizes your health and well-being to help defeat those anxious feelings. Know you are not alone, and remember that on the other side of fear is trust in your provider!