Afraid of the Dentist? – Part 2


In my earlier blog I outlined some of the reasons why people seem to be afraid of the dentist. Now it’s time to discuss what to do about it!

Here are some strategies for coping with fear of the dentist that you may want to try. Some of these techniques can even be applied to other stressful situations that you may encounter:

  1. Breathing techniques – Deep slow breathing can reduce stress, lower your pulse rate and blood pressure and reduce your anxiety. Just breathe in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth for a few minutes and see how you feel.
  2. Muscle relaxation – Progressive muscle relaxation can also slow the heart rate and reduce anxiety. It is accomplished by alternately tensing and relaxing one muscle group at a time.
  3. Hypnosis – I’ve had several patients over the years that have either practiced self- hypnosis or utilized the services of a professional hypnotherapist. You may be one of those people who thinks that it will never work for you, but trust me…it works!
  4. Desensitization – This technique works by gradually increasing your familiarity with what and how we provide treatment. In my experience there are two kinds of people…those that like to know what I am doing while I work, and those that don’t want to know. If you are one of the former, then this approach might work for you!
  5. Distraction – Listening to music or focusing your mind on something else may be all that is needed to help you through a difficult procedure. We have a selection of music available in the office and head phones to go with it, or you may choose to bring your own.
  6. Nitrous oxide – Nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as “laughing gas” is a colorless, odorless gas that when inhaled produces a sense of euphoria or well-being. Combined with oxygen, it is completely safe and immediately reversible. It reduces anxiety within minutes and is very helpful for many patients.

So there you have it…several of my favorite tactics for helping patients deal with their anxiety and overcome their fears so that they can receive the dental care they need.

Please feel free to contact us if you have questions regarding any of these techniques. See you soon!

Afraid of the Dentist? Part One


Recently an article appeared in the advice column of my local paper relating to fear of the dentist, a very common problem. In fact it is estimated that there are 80 million dental “phobics” in this country! Coupled with the fact that only about 40% of the people in the U.S. see a dentist on a regular basis, one can understand why this could present such a huge problem in maintaining the dental health of the nation.

It has been suggested that three of the most common triggers for being afraid of the dentist are fear of injections, the smell of the dental office and the noise of the drill. I’ve also found that most cases of dental fear relate to a bad experience from a childhood visit.

Recognizing that most of these concerns are of an emotional nature and not grounded in reality of the situation, one of my own pet theories is that people of any age revert to childhood as soon as they cross the threshold of my front office door.

Recognizing this reality can certainly present a challenge for me and the staff, and we have developed many strategies over the years to deal with patients fears in order to help people get the care they need. In the next issue of this blog I will present some of the techniques we have found useful in alleviating these fears.