Many people fear going to the dentist. It’s estimated that anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of the adult U.S. population experiences severe dental anxiety or dental fear. Overall, nearly 75 percent of people report feeling anxiety before a dental appointment or procedure. Everyone has a different reason for their fear. Often, resolution is as easy as a patient understanding why they feel this way and addressing those fears.
Sometimes the reason for their fears might be the noise and scary-looking equipment. Other times it’s simply the fear of the unknown. If a particular procedure isn’t explained to a patient in a way they can understand, it’s perfectly natural for them to be anxious. Many folks experience dental fear because of a previously bad experience that has left an indelible impression; an impression so traumatic that it’s hard for them to shake it off.
Besides having a bad dental experience directly, indirect associations can have an effect as well. For instance, a family member or a friend may have had a traumatic dental experience and their fear and anxiety is indirectly transferred to another family member or friend. And of course negative portrayals of dentists and dental procedures in the media can bring about subtle fearful associations. Think Marathon Man and the dentist Dr. Christian Szell, the Nazi war criminal who tortures the protagonist played by Dustin Hoffman. [Read more…]