Dental Phobia is common and affects upto 15% of the population . Many patient with dental phobias tend to stay away from dental offices for long periods of time and only come in when problems in their mouth become severe . Often a family member has been instrumental in convincing a phobic patient to visit the dentist.
Dental phobia can vary in intensity from mild to extreme. The worst don’t come to the dentist at all. Some phobic patients are in a state of panic and when they present in my office and often I refer them to a dentist providing IV sedation. Many phobics can be treated successfully in a conventional dental office. The trick is proper conditioning. Appointments must be made close together preferably on a weekly basis. Often times this accelerated schedule is necessary do to the extent of their mouth’s deterioration, but having appointments close together seems to decrease their anxiety level. Also, I find that Nitrous Oxide can help phobic patients be more comfortable at the dentist.
When phobics take time off(they almost always ask for time off) there anxiety seems to increaseand it is hard to get them back. Often they return when something bad happens to their teeth.
When treating apprehensive patients, every effort is made to be gentle, give painless injections and deal with them in calming manner. If possible is helpful to engage them in conversation that interests them. Nitrous Oxide is extremely helpful and oral antianxiety drugs can be utilized.