While dental fears are widespread, affecting nearly half the population to some degree, fears are generally mild. For most people, a trip to the dentist is simply a necessary step in maintaining good oral hygiene and a healthy mouth. The discomfort they may feel is overcome by the knowledge that proper dental care is highly beneficial to their health. However, for about 5 percent of the population, dental fears are so intense that voluntary dental care is out of the question. Dental sedation is one option that may help these Houston residents get the care they so desperately need.
Dental Fear Examined
For those with true dental phobia—an intense and irrational fear of dental treatment that impacts everyday life—the very thought of a dental appointment can be terrifying. This fear and avoidance can lead to a multitude of problems, from gum disease, to tooth decay and lost teeth. Those who avoid the dentist put their overall health in jeopardy as well, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and more.
Biological Causes of Dental Fear
In many respects, dental fears are a normal biological response. Conditions in many dental offices may trigger the flight or fight response. Strange smells, bright lights, odd-looking instruments, vibrations and noises can all play a part in triggering this involuntary response.
The flight or fight response is crucial to our survival. It is triggered when conditions are present that indicate a threat, including having open air passages. It is no wonder that having dental instruments and gloved hands in our mouths can activate fears.
Psychological Causes of Dental Fear
The psychological causes of dental fear can be widespread. Patterns learned from your parents, previous dental experiences, or feeling a loss of control may all play a role. For many, the simple act of reclining in a dental chair can elicit feelings of helplessness and anxiety. Those who suffer from general anxiety or depression may manifest dental fear as well.
Previous poor dental experiences can have a profound effect on fear levels—raising them by as much as 20 percent. Positive early experiences are one of the best ways to avoid developing dental phobias to begin with.
Coping with Dental Fear
Dental fears and phobias don’t have to keep you from getting the care you need, or the beautiful smile you want. The Houston dentists at Fantastic Smiles, Dr. Jean Morency strive to provide a safe and comfortable environment for all of their patients. We will take the time to discuss all of your options up front—before any treatment begins. We offer both sedation dentistry and sleep dentistry services in our spa-like environment.
If you live in or around Houston, Sugar Land, or Katy, Texas, and want to learn more about sedation dentistry, please contact Fantastic Smiles or call 832-862-1111 today to schedule a consultation.