Fear Of Dentists Is A Real Thing (But Not With Us)

by Dr. Vareldzis


There’s a term for it: dental phobia.

It’s not like people are running around saying, “Hooray! It’s finally time for my dentist visit! Time to party!” More likely, you see your appointment as just another line on your to-do list: Head to the grocery store, pick up the kids after practice and stop by Hillcrest Family Dentistry for a cleaning.

At least, that’s the way it should be. Sadly, some people have a very real fear of going to the dentist. We’re not talking about a little worry that the dentist is going to find some horrible, expensive problem. That’s reasonable. What’s not reasonable? When the pain from bleeding gums or a rotten tooth is preferable to the anxiety and fear caused by visiting the dentist’s office.

Skipping Visits Makes Things Worse

That’s the big problem with dental phobia. The overwhelming fear that pops up when it’s time for your appointment can hurt your health. You end up skipping cleanings and exams, which means we can’t catch and fix problems when they’re small. You wait and wait, the pain getting worse and worse, until you’re cranky all the time and can’t stand it. By then, the problem has grown out of proportion, costs a lot, and takes forever to fix. If you cannot get the care you need because you can’t get past the fear, you have dental phobia.

And you’re not alone. Somewhere between 10%-15% of Americans skip appointments because of that fear. Dental phobia is a very real thing. And as with similar problems, Americans are starting to realize you can’t just “get past it.” You can’t tell someone with agoraphobia to grow up and act their age when going outside. Telling someone with claustrophobia to get over it and enjoy being part of a thick, tight crowd of people is not just unhelpful, it’s rude. The same is true with dental phobia. You can’t go to just any old dental office and expect to move past the fear. It’s a real thing, so it needs a real solution.

Comfort, Compassion, and Sedation

There’s no magic cure to dental phobia, but there are ways to make the fear manageable enough that you can get treatments you need. Here’s how Hillcrest Family Dentistry can help:

  • Our office is comfortable. Chances are, you have some bad memories about dentist offices from your childhood. The whine of that drill can send chills down your spine to this day. Then there’s the strange smells, the cold plastic chairs, and how it always seemed cold and too bright for some reason. There are probably still some offices that haven’t figured out how this adds to dental phobia. But at our Medford, OR office, we went out of our way to build an environment that’s comfortable. Soft blankets to keep you warm, comfortable chairs, pillows for your head, and even semi-private rooms so you don’t have to see what’s going on right next to you.
  • Our staff treats you right. Sometimes, the office isn’t what’s cold. It’s the people. Have you ever been to one of those big-box stores where the employees obviously don’t care if you’re there or not? You ask them a question, and they act like you’re the problem? Now think about that when you’re waiting to get a root canal. Not good. Our dental team has the people skills and compassion needed to make you feel welcome and more relaxed.
  • Our sedation options will make it go away. If you’re still so nervous that you’re thinking of skipping appointments, we can help with our sedation dentistry. Nitrous oxide is also called “laughing gas” because it can make you so relaxed and stress-free, you might even giggle and laugh. Imagine being so devoid of fear that you start laughing during your appointment! And because this is conscious sedation dentistry, you’ll still be able to drive home after the procedure.
  • If you need something stronger, we can prescribe an oral sedative. You need to take the pill an hour beforehand, and you’ll need someone to drive you to and from our office in east Medford, but this more powerful option will likely get rid of all fear and anxiety you might feel.

Is there a total and complete cure for dental phobia? Not really, but if you continue to have positive experiences, you will start to see dental visits as a good thing. In other words, because you’ll have a great appointment thanks to our comfortable office, soothing staff, and sedation dentistry, you are more likely to be happy about your next one. And that means you’ll finally get the dental care you need. Call us at 541-930-8036, or fill out this web form, to schedule your next appointment and see just how comfortable we can help you feel.