Mall of Georgia Dentistry's Blog

"Making you smile from the inside out"

Can Dental Anxiety Lead to More Long-Term Problems? September 26, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 2:04 pm

If anxiety is keeping you out of the dentists office, could the results could be more pain in the long run?

Fear of the dentist is known by many names and has many variations of severity,  from mild dental anxiety to definite dental phobia (also called “dentist phobia”  or “ondontophobia”.)

Some theories claim such fear has roots in old-fashioned forms of dentistry which existed before local anesthetics were commonplace, and even primitive dentistry, which was fairly brutal. Today’s practice of dentistry is quite painless, but generations of negative portrayal in pop culture, literature, and the media has made a lasting impression of an outdated experience of dentistry that existed before modern comforts and technology.

Other possible causes of dental fear arise from personal experience of tooth pain and unpleasant extensive procedures that are very often needed as a result of neglected routine preventative care – a neglect due to due to dental fear.  In a vicious cycle, the anxiety of these more major procedures only reinforces the dental fear, but many times such dental problems that are brought about in this way would highly likely have been avoided or have a reduced severity  if dental fear had not kept the patient from routine office visits.

Did you know that fear of the dentist can be learned behavior? Interestingly, the social mentality of our grandparents and great grandparent’s generation, when dentistry was still sometimes a bit of a painful affair, can be passed down. (Novocain has only been around since the early 1900’s.) The impressionable minds of the young will often internalize such judgments as true when statements by guardians and role modals express experiences of extreme unpleasantness.

In reality, trips to the dentist could easily be associated with relief from pain and prevention of future discomforts. Because a toothache, decay, abscess, infection or any number of pain-causing dental conditions will only get worse if left untreated, a trip to the dentist is often actually the fastest and most lasting way to get out of pain for good.  And, of course, good hygiene at home reinforced by routine cleanings and exams can help prevent problems in the first place and avoid pain in the long run.

At Mall of Georgia Dentistry, we always aim to be gentle and empathetic in the care of patients. We understand that sometimes a little extra attention and care is needed, so please talk to us if you feel a sense of anxiety or fear… we don’t want that to keep you from letting us help you have the healthy mouth and bright smile you deserve!

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