#1 Reason People Don’t Visit the Dentist
What is the number one reason that people do not visit the dentist? Is it money? Is it time? Is it because dental health just isn’t a priority? The answer to all these questions is absolutely, “No”. Patients share with us at Origin Dental Wellness, that the number one reason they haven’t been to a dentist in a while is due to dental anxiety. The heart is racing, ringing in the ears, sick to your stomach, and must run feeling type of anxiety. And it often occurs at the moment of just walking into the dental office. Why is going to the dentist so traumatic for so many people?
The answer often lies in a past story. Often a patient will share how they had a painful experience, either as a child or an adult, in which they not only felt helpless to have the pain alleviated but also felt trapped in the midst of the dental procedure being performed. Unfortunately, these stories are all too common. And once a person has a negative experience at a dental appointment, that experience is carried with them into every future dental appointment they have.
But let’s evaluate the reality of dental procedures compared to any other medical procedure, and the expectations placed upon not only the patient but also the provider. Dental procedures require the patient to lie down in the most vulnerable position of having the stomach facing upward. This is the opposite of the fetal position that one naturally goes to when feeling the need to be protected. And then, the patient is required to further expose themselves by opening their mouth and allowing potentially painful procedures to be performed.
Where else in medicine is this acceptable? It is incredibly rare for any other medical procedures to be performed in such a personal and up-close space while the patient is awake. It is so important that dental providers recognize this expectation within the profession and offer assistance to those patients who have debilitating dental anxiety. Dental health is a cornerstone for overall health, so it is vitally important that accessing dental health is feasible. One of the kindest things we can do for our patients is to offer them the opportunity to be sedated. At Origin Dental Wellness, we work with anesthesiologists who travel to our office to offer this much-needed service. Not only does this offer the benefit of the patient being asleep during the procedure, but it also allows the body to heal more efficiently because stress hormones are not surging throughout the bloodstream. Stress hormones counteract healing, so when a patient is nervous, dental procedures don’t heal as well. If that fight or flight response is activated, the body uses all its resources for the potential to fight or run, shutting down the immune system. This decreases the potential for good-quality healing.
Dental anxiety is a very real thing that we acknowledge and discuss with each individual patient. These conversations give us an opportunity to design treatments uniquely customized to everyone’s needs, so that our patients can have a great experience, often giving them the opportunity to overcome dental anxiety in the future.