Westminster dentist Dr. Gary Imm explains dental phobia

What is dental phobia?


Dental phobia involves fear of going to the dentist and affects about 10 percent of adults in the Untied States. Many people with dental phobia avoid routine dental check-ups and treatment, only visiting a dentist when a toothache or other emergency occurs. Fortunately, modern patients often have the option of sedation dentistry to reduce their anxiety about dental treatment.

Once burned, twice shy

Dental phobia ranges in severity from mild anxiety about invasive procedures to extreme fear of all dental work. Causes vary, but many people develop dental phobia after past bad experiences as dental patients. For some patients, an unfriendly dentist may become the root of their dental anxiety. Others may become fearful of the dentist’s chair after undergoing a painful procedure. Patients with dental phobia are most likely to fear oral surgery.

Don’t let phobia keep you away from care

Dental phobia can cause serious dental problems by spurring avoidance of dental care.

  • Cavities that may be easy to treat at first can develop into serious decay over time, possibly requiring extraction and costly replacement of teeth.
  • Long-standing infections of the teeth and gums can result in gum disease or abscesses that threaten health.
  • Phobic patients who avoid the dentist don’t get regular inspections by their dentist, who may spot problems such as oral cancer so that treatment can be pursued in time. 

Sedation can help you stay calm

Many dentists now offer sedation so that patients with dental phobia can get the treatment they need. Sedation options may include oral, injected, combined, inhaled and natural types.

  • Oral sedation involves the use of oral anxiety medications in pill form that are taken by patients before appointments.
  • Injected medications provide heavier sedation, and they may put patients to sleep or leave them barely conscious depending on dosage and type.
  • Combined treatments involve the use of both oral sedation ahead of time and injected sedation during the procedure.
  • Inhaled nitrous oxide gas may be offered alone, during initial injections or in combination with the above treatments. 
  • Natural sedation techniques offer drug free sedation.

Find out more about stress free dental care

Dental phobia can lead to serious dental problems if left untreated. Now that sedation dentistry is here, more patients can get the treatment they need to stay healthy. Depending on their level of anxiety and the options available from their Westminster dentist, patients can stay calm or go to sleep during almost any procedure for stress-free dental care.

If you would like to learn more about how dental sedation could help you overcome your dental phobia, take advantage of Dr. Imm’s complimentary consultation.

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About the author

A practicing dentist since 1982, Dr. Gary Imm, provides advanced cosmetic dentistry, including smile makeovers, sedation, implant and TMJ services. He is committed to progressive, extraordinary care for his guests. All Smiles Dental Care trains at least 300 hours each year at such prestigious centers as the Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dentistry. (LVI)