If you’re afraid of the dentist, we have a name for you: normal. In fact, it’s so normal that I can’t think of a single patient who comes to our Tribeca dental office who is delighted to see us. Friendly? Yes. Delighted? That’s a bit of an overstatement. Going to the dentist can evoke fear in patients for many reasons.
The first cause of dental fear develops in childhood. Unfortunately, when we’re small, we don’t understand everything that’s going on around us. We don’t understand, for example, why the dentist needs to look into our mouth and poke around with instruments. After all, nobody else does that! As children, we’re wary of adult strangers who ask us to open our mouths so they can poke around. Even if it’s not painful, it’s frightening to many children. Further, it’s possible that parents or siblings made statements about the dentist that contribute to a lifelong fear. Dental fear can, unfortunately, stick with you. A bit irrational? Yes. Normal? Again, yes.
A second cause of dental fear is often based on positioning. What’s that, you say? Positioning. You’re on a chair, supine and, essentially, vulnerable. We’re programmed in our primal brain to avoid putting ourselves in vulnerable positions. Cavemen knew that to lay on one’s back increased their risks of injury or attack. Unfortunately, that caveman part of our brain is still there, even after years of going to the dentist.
A third cause of dental fear is procrastination. Yes, that avoidance tactic many of us use when we don’t want to face up to something. Perhaps you aren’t flossing as you should. Maybe you even go to bed occasionally without brushing. Maybe you have a toothache and have put off going to the dentist because you know the solution will likely involve needles. Relax. You aren’t the only one who does these things. We understand that people are busy. That life is complex. That sometimes you put off doing things that are good for you. We get that. And, believe it or not, some of us at the office put things off, too. Again, it’s normal.
Rest assured that, regardless of your level of fear of the dentist, we understand. We’re here for you. We have specific tools, like sedation dentistry and techniques to numb your teeth without discomfort. These techniques will help you manage your fear. And remember, you’re normal.