Prone to Dentalcare Avoidance?—Here’s How Island Tower Dentistry Can Help
You might be surprised to learn that dental anxiety is more common than you might think, especially if you are one of the millions of Americans who avoid going to the dentist due to odontophobia. Even those apparently in need of the “Hollywood smile” can be averse to dentistry. Consider that Jennifer Aniston, Kristen Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Kate Beckinsale, Emma Watson, and other celebrities have publicly admitted that they fear dentists and have sometimes gone years without a dental appointment. Some further acknowledge that they must be sedated or take other medications to get them through their appointments.
If you’re like these dental-anxiety-ridden celebrities, Dr. Jonathan Van Dyke and Dr. Brian Garcia of Southwest Florida’s Island Tower Dentistry can help ease your apprehension. Forewarned is forearmed, so understanding the root causes of your dental anxiety is the first step to overcoming it so you can better maintain your beautiful smile. The following primer on odontophobia should help alleviate some of your dental fears, and Island Tower Dentistry offers two levels of oral sedation dentistry to provide comfort and ease stress in those who suffer from dental anxiety.
Odontophobia is defined as a general fear of dentistry and dental procedures, which can cause severe anxiety in those affected when facing a dental appointment or being confronted with dental instruments. A related term for the condition is called “dentophobia,” though this phobia relates more to the fear of having one’s teeth touched, losing them, or being near or in contact with the teeth of others.
Researchers believe these phobias can develop through adverse oral-related events experienced during youth and/or from indeterminate negative associations that develop about dental instruments or teeth in general. The World Health Association recognizes odontophobia as a “real disease” and estimates it affects up to 20% of the global population. Fortunately, most people only suffer a mild or moderate form of the condition, which can typically be overcome by the combined efforts of the patient and their dentist. Those who suffer severe dental-related phobias may need to seek professional psychological help.
Whether your dental anxiety is a genuine phobia or not doesn’t really matter if it compromises your oral health because it makes you avoid regular dentist visits. Those who avoid professional dental maintenance are at far greater risk of developing cavities, gingivitis, periodontitis, and other issues affecting the teeth and gums. The lack of periodic professional cleaning will also inevitably compromise the beauty of your smile.
Overcoming Dental Anxiety
The first step in overcoming dental anxiety or phobia is recognizing that you have it and realizing that it could impact your oral health. Second, choose a dental care professional who understands dental anxiety and takes a proactive approach to address it. The right dentist can make all the difference by showing compassion, providing gentle care, and carefully reviewing the steps of each procedure in advance. Dentists attuned to dental anxiety, such as those at our Marco Island, Florida practice, also offer oral sedation techniques as needed.
Make sure that you advise your chosen dentist about your anxieties so that they can be a partner in helping you overcome your fears. Before and during your first appointment, do not hesitate to ask questions and voice any concerns. Of course, dentists familiar with dental anxiety may pre-empt such by providing unsolicited answers to your questions during your appointment. This focus on keeping you well informed is designed to help ease your apprehension.
Prior to your appointment, try to get in the proper mindset by using any relaxation techniques you use to control anxiety. This could include yoga, stretching, meditation, controlled breathing, or mindfulness exercises. Additionally, ask your dentist for any tips about how to prepare for your appointment. Depending on your circumstances, your dentist might prescribe a mild oral sedation sedative to take before your appointment.
Contact Island Tower Dentistry to Overcome Your Dental Anxiety
The dental professionals at southwest Florida’s Island Tower Dentistry are well-practiced at helping their patients overcome dental anxiety to ensure the best in regular oral health care. We guide our patients through their appointments by being informative and performing each procedure with gentleness and care. For those suffering from odontophobia or other dental anxiety, we offer oral-conscious sedation treatments designed to optimize the patient’s comfort no matter the procedure. With expertise in the full range of dental services in the Marco Island, Florida, area, contact Island Tower Dentistry today at 239-394-1004.