So, if you think going to the dentist is going to be what it was like when you were a kid – think again! This blog post is all about the reality of modern dental work.
Before we go on, we must say we acknowledge, understand and respect that many people have dental anxiety or dental phobia. It’s okay to be nervous, but you owe it to yourself to know the truth about modern dentistry, to overcome your blocks and get the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve.
Listen to Dr Adrian chat on 6pr about dental phobia.
I want dental treatment but I am scared of the dentist
You look in the mirror and smile, but you don’t like what you see. You run your tongue over your teeth, but you don’t like what you feel. You pose for a photo at your son or daughter’s birthday party, but you make sure to smile with your mouth shut.
You know you don’t like your teeth, but your fear of the dentist has you putting up with the situation. You shouldn’t have to.
Like most practitioners in the medical and “cosmedical” industries, dentists offer a wide range of treatments and techniques. Just like a visit to the doctor’s surgery, most trips to a dentist involve no pain at all. However, many people find just being examined offputting.
Dentists have become extremely conscious of this. At Advanced Dental Artistry, we work hard to create a relaxing atmosphere. Where old-school dental surgeries where bleak, white and cold, our facility reflects the people and culture of our practice: warm, welcoming and calm.
Dental anxiety vs. dental phobia
It is important to make the distinction here between people whose apprehension puts them off going to their dentist for extended periods – those who would rather not – and those people whose fears literally prevent them from getting any dental care – those who cannot.
The first kind is dental anxiety, while the second is dental phobia.
Dental anxiety is very common, affecting around 1 in 10 people. They still attend dental appointments – putting up with their fear and tension – but often only for serious or sudden conditions. These people are reluctant to book and unlikely to attend regular checkups.
Dental phobia, on the other hand, is rarer and more serious. People with dental phobia have a panic response to dentistry.
Often they cannot face booking in for dental care even when they have an acute need for it. It is a genuine mental block that leads some people to put up with pain and decreased function for years. Even decades.
We are understanding about both conditions and work with those who have them every day.
One thing we must note is that as dentists, we work with permanent body tissues that do not regrow. For this reason, much more so than many other medical fields, prevention and care is vastly more effective in dentistry than treatments and cures.
Unfortunately, both dental anxiety and dental phobia impede preventative care and both lead to worse dental health outcomes over the long term than for those who have regular check-ups.
Risks of avoiding dental work
Have a look at Adrian’s case. He had a bad experience with dentists as a child and the result was ignoring dental maintenance for years at a time. We were thankfully able to give him the smile he deserved.
Pain: Tooth pain can range from intermittent and scarcely noticeable right through to something so bad that it prevents eating. However, the natural level of tooth pain is none at all. People who avoid dental checkups often live with constant low-level discomfort. Most of the people putting up with persistent dental pain are in older age groups whose experience of dental treatment predates modern advances in minimal-pain dentistry and empathic patient care.
Early tooth loss: Our teeth have been designed by evolution to only last about 50 years, however, these days we often live double that! While tooth loss is a natural part of ageing, poor dental care regimes mean some people lose permanent teeth while still in their 20s. And that is not natural and almost always preventable.
Cavities caught too late: A tooth cavity can be thought of as a “slow infection”. Over time, harmful bacteria attack the hard, healthy parts of a tooth. Eventually, the cavity penetrates into the soft tissues within. Once this happens the pain increases and the treatment options become much more serious. However, no one gets cavities overnight. If caught early, cavities can be easily and quickly prevented from doing any more damage.
Difficulty performing cosmetic dentistry: Most cosmetic dentistry treatments require you to have healthy teeth and gums already. So, avoiding regular check-ups can mean you might require more visits to improve general oral health before you can seek the beautiful, shining smile you want.
Pain-free dental work
As a whole, the dental field has worked very hard over decades to dramatically reduce the discomfort of routine and advanced dental treatments.
For example, on involved procedures, we at Advanced Dental Artistry practice ‘sleep dentistry’. It is a form of sedation that lowers your consciousness to a point between wakefulness and full ‘sleep’. While safer than a general anaesthetic and not having as long a recovery time, it is is similarly pain-free. And, just like a general, you won’t remember anything.
So, if you are worried about going to the dentist because you can only remember what dentistry used to be like, it’s time to talk to a truly modern dentist about how far things have come.