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At Dentistry at 1818 Market Street, we want all of our patients to feel comfortable, and even happy to be at the dentist. For some people, this may feel impossible, due to Dentophobia.

Dentophobia is the fear of the dentist, and it is a very common issue. Between 5% and 8% of Americans avoid dentists out of fear, estimates Peter Milgrom, DDS, director of the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington in Seattle and author of Treating Fearful Dental Patients. A higher percentage, perhaps 20%, experiences enough anxiety that they will go to the dentist only when absolutely necessary, according to Milgrom.

There are a variety of reasons why a person may be afraid to go to the dentist. About two-thirds of people relate their fear to a bad experience in the dentist’s office. Another third have other issues for which fear of dentists can be an unpleasant side effect, such as various mood or anxiety disorders, substance abuse, or posttraumatic stress experienced by war veterans, victims of domestic violence, and victims of childhood sexual abuse.  Fear of dentists usually stems not so much from the experience of pain as from the lack of control that patients experience in the dentist’s chair.

No matter how terrifying going to the dentist might seem, it’s never a good idea to skip routine appointments.

Inadequate levels of oral hygiene lead to a variety of problems. Examples of what happens when you avoid the dentist include:

  • Bad breath
  • Cavities
  • Plaque and tartar
  • Tooth loss
  • Gum Disease
  • Infected teeth
  • Discolored teeth

Visiting our dental office in Center City Philadelphia won’t be nearly as painful as you expect.

Surveys of patients before and after the most dreaded procedures — such as a root canal or wisdom tooth extraction — have found that they anticipated much more discomfort than they actually experienced.

Still, even if your mind tells you you’ll be just fine, your body may still fear that dentist’s chair. Here are a few tips that may help you overcome your fear of the dentist:

Go to that first visit with someone you trust, such as a close relative who has no fear of dentists, At Dentistry at 1818 Market Street, we can even allow a support person to sit with you during your treatment.

Seek distraction while in the dentist’s chair. Put your earbuds in and listen to your favorite music or podcast during your treatment. You could also find a dentist with a TV or other distractions available in the treatment room.

Try relaxation techniques, like controlled breathing. This will slow your heartbeat and relax your muscles. Another technique is progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in turn.

Ask questions. If fear of the unknown causes you anxiety, ask as many questions as you have. At Dentistry at 1818 Market Street, we want you to feel in control and ease your worries.

Tell your dentist. Let us know you have a fear of the dentist and at Dentistry at 1818 Market in Philadelphia we will do our best to help you feel comfortable. Call our office today to discuss overcoming your dental phobia and make an appointment to come see us in person. You’ll be in good hands!

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