Dental anxiety? Our Knoxville dentists will make you feel at ease.
Millions of adults suffer from dental anxiety or dental phobia. Dr. Stephen Malone and Dr. Erin L. Noble in Knoxville, TN know that fear of the dentist is a serious problem. Patients who are afraid of visiting the dentist often delay treatment, and, as a result, they face a high risk for dental decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. Fortunately, our dentists have an acute awareness of dental anxiety. They understand that anxiety is a very real problem, and that it is not the patient’s fault. Therefore, they offer guidance and sedation options to ease patients’ nerves and enable them to receive the treatment they need.
Our dentists are exceptional when it comes to spending conversation time with patients before examination and treatment. Their goal is to get to know the people who come to them, empathetically listen and understand each person’s unique dental history, concerns and oral health desires. They are not judgmental but do have a desire to help you achieve improved oral health, and they will collaborate with you in developing a comfortable plan for your care.
“If you have delayed checkups, teeth cleanings, and treatment, you may have dental caries, gum disease, and other dental problems that need solution before you can smile with confidence and enjoy full health and vitality,” says Dr. Stephen Malone.
“You may be suffering from pain and embarrassment about your smile. We cannot say this enough: We understand. We will provide comfort measures and will gently take care of your needs.
“Because I am experienced in planning whole mouth rehabilitation at the pace that patients are most comfortable with—and have successfully helped many patients achieve the health and smile of their dreams, I know I can help you.
“I will fully inform you about health issues that are a priority to address and provide you with treatment options. Together, we can make a plan and team on improving your oral health and smile appearance. You will feel in control of your oral health once again and be given the opportunity to accept treatment that you have helped design.
“In our practice, we do our best to provide financing options that make quality oral health care available to our patients, so don’t let anxiety around dentistry be compounded by financial concerns. Call us to make an appointment, and bravely discuss your concerns with us. We will guide you on the path to health and confidence.”
An Introduction to Dental Anxiety and Its Symptoms
Dental anxiety can manifest itself in many ways. Mild feelings of apprehension, difficulty sleeping, and a fluttering sensation in the stomach are some of the most common symptoms. However, in many cases, dental anxiety can cross over into dental phobia. This is a much more intense fear, which can cause feelings of dread and significant physical side effects. The symptoms of dental phobia may include:
- Spinning thoughts regarding an upcoming dental visit
- An elevated heart rate
- Sweating palms
- Feelings of panic, even at the mention of the dentist
- Difficulty breathing during a dental visit
What Causes Dental Anxiety?
When a person suffers from dental anxiety or dental phobia, it is not his or her fault. Like other fears, dental phobia results from circumstances beyond a person’s control. However, understanding the causes of anxiety can help a patient to overcome the problem and receive needed treatment. Dental anxiety can result from many different factors, including:
- Stories heard from others: This is one of the most common causes for dental anxiety. People love to tell “horror stories” about their past dental treatment, often exaggerating the details to elicit sympathy or for dramatic effect. In the vast majority of cases, patients find that their experiences are nothing like those recounted in these stories.
- Embarrassment: Many patients who have put off their dental treatment are embarrassed by their dental health, and they fear their dentist will guilt or ridicule them. Our dentists and hygienists are gentle, compassionate, and non-judgmental.
- Not having control: Some individuals dread the dentist because they feel that they will no longer be in control of the situation. They fear that they will have to submit themselves to their dentists completely. We strive to team with you and involve you in your exams and oral health care. We fully inform our patients about their needs and treatment options. We allow our patients to decide if they want treatment and to collaborate in the planning of the treatment. We will establish a signal, which will indicate when you want us to stop. In this way, you will remain in control.
- Negative past experiences: If you have had an unpleasant experience in the past, you may fear that future dental treatment will follow the same pattern. Fortunately extremely negative experiences are rare. Patients, who have had bad experiences in the past, tell us that their visits here are much more pleasant and comfortable.
Managing Dental Anxiety
The most important step towards overcoming dental anxiety is being open and honest with the dentist. Before treatment, patients should explain that they suffer from dental anxiety. They should ask their dentists to outline their procedures in detail prior to treatment. Additionally, they should ask to see the instruments that will be used. Often, taking the fear out of the unknown can reduce most of a patient’s apprehension.
There are several other techniques that patients can use to minimize anxiety. These steps include:
- Learning breathing and relaxation techniques
- Establishing non-verbal signals with the dentist
- Taking regular breaks throughout a procedure
If these non-medical remedies are not enough to control a patient’s anxiety, medical sedation options are also available. Most commonly an antianxiety medication is prescribed to be take prior to treatment. A small dose will ease your nerves. A larger dose may cause you to fall asleep during treatment. Today’s local anesthetics are powerful. After numbing with a topical anesthetic, our doctors gently inject local anesthetic that blocks all pain.
Our dentists will carefully evaluate your level of anxiety, and then work with you to choose the method that most suits your symptoms and overall health needs.