Dental Anxiety Is Completely Natural
Everyone experiences fear from time to time. In fact, it’s nothing to be ashamed of because it’s part of our makeup. As humans, we’re born nearly helpless, and we are obviously afraid because of our vulnerable position. We don’t know if the next creature moving toward us is a wolf that will eat us or our mother who will feed us — at least not at first.
Then, we gain some experience with being comfortable around those who take good care of us. We begin the lifelong struggle to trust in general. We never lose our inherent anxiety or fear, but we learn to balance it with the positive stimuli we get from positive relationships.
The Limbic Region Of The Brain
You see, our brains are made up of three sections:
- the reptilian brain that controls the function of organs and our fight-or-flight response as well as our sexual activity
- the limbic brain that produces emotions and lets us seek relationships and form close feelings for our relatives and caretakers who help us feel greater security, and
- the cortex which is present only in more evolved animals like us and allows us higher thinking abilities.
It’s no wonder we have fears. Fear is at our core. But we are also hard-wired to form relationships with competent caretakers who help us survive and give us peace of mind. Dental fear, then, is natural, but this anxiety can be overcome by forming a trusting relationship with a dental professional.
Quite honestly, those of us who successfully find others that can help us feel safe are very lucky.
But for many of us, the natural dental anxiety we feel is made worse by bad experiences in the past that generate even higher levels of distrust. Broken trust is harder to overcome than no trust at all.
And historically, many of us have found going to the dentist to be a less-than-ideal situation that contributes to greater fear. This dental fear is natural and built into our brains, but it still must be overcome if we are to experience good oral health and strong overall health.
You see, when we trust someone and get pain in return, that’s bad. It erode away our ability to trust. But we can overcome it. Part of overcoming it is understanding that dental anxiety is natural and normal, then when you establish a relationship with a dentist that you are sure won’t hurt you, you can trust again.
You need a dentist who will commit to not hurting his or her patients. But can a dentist really promise that?
Treating Patients With Dental Phobia
In the past, dentistry was necessarily a bit barbaric. But times have changed, and so had the equipment and the processes involved in good dentistry. Simply put, things aren’t like they used to be. A painless dental experience wasn’t always possible in previous generations, but it is today.
For example, anesthesia isn’t what it used to be. While the large and painful needles of the past were sometimes traumatic, today’s needles are smaller, and we use topical anesthetics to make sure you don’t feel the needle going in — if a needle is necessary at all.
With today’s availability of lasers, microabrasion units and low-heat electric motors, we can perform many procedures without pain and without the need for injections. When you do need an injection, we use more powerful gel anesthetics and pH-neutral solutions that are warmed to body temperature so that they don’t cause such discomfort when they go in. Patients usually don’t feel a thing.
We understand the devastating effects of hurting our patients, so we do everything possible to avoid hurting you. We slow down, get to know you, understand your needs and gain your trust before we perform procedures on you.
We also have a very important rule regarding communication that’s designed to help you release some of your dental anxiety. If for any reason you want us to stop a procedure for a while, simply raise your left hand. We stop, attend to your needs and make sure you’re completely comfortable before we continue.
To further ease your mind, we tell you in advance what we’re doing unless you ask us not to. That way, you know what we’re doing and why, and this knowledge helps empower you to forget about your dental phobia and focus on the improvement to your overall health that will come from the treatment. We strive to help you understand that we’re your partners in treatment.
Let’s make this very clear for you: we don’t hurt our patients. We want you as lifelong clients and don’t want to harm our relationship with you.
We Cater To Dental Anxiety In Our Painless Dental Clinic
We know that a large number of people in San Diego are afraid of dentists, and some of your have good reason to be. But we take great pride and great satisfaction in doing our part to put an end to dental phobia one patient at a time.
By taking extra precautions to avoid pain and explaining every detail of every procedure to you, we hope to create in your brain a new feeling about dentists: the feeling that we’re here to help.
– Dr. Daniel Vinograd, D.D.S.
Listen to Dr. Vinograd’s Free podcast on the subject: