Our mission is to provide people who haven't been comfortable at the dentist with a place to go.
Dental fear refers to the fear of dentistry and of receiving dental care. A pathological form of this fear (specific phobia) is variously called dental phobia, odontophobia, dentophobia, dentist phobia, or dental anxiety. However, it has been suggested that the term “dental phobia” is often a misnomer, as many people with this condition do not feel their fears to be excessive or unreasonable and resemble individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by previous traumatic dental experiences.
About Your Dental Fear
Many people with severe dental fear, also called dental phobia, have difficulty understanding why they have such a prolonged avoidance of the dentist. They don’t know why their heart pounds, their palms sweat, and they often lose sleep before dental appointments. Such a dental fear reaction is mostly a learned response to previous dental, medical or life traumas. The sense of panic and dread that people experience, called panic attacks or anxiety attacks, are an involuntary reflex that no one can completely control. The good news is that that we can virtually eliminate these fearful dental experiences through the use of various types of sedation and good communication.
Traumatic memories can sometimes be unlearned, primarily through a seri es of good experiences, sometimes aided by medication. Effects of traumas can reinforce each other. It can be said that new traumas actually reawaken old traumas. These traumatic memories are stored in a place in the brain that mediates the fight or flight response. The fight or flight response is a short circuit that is designed to allow us to respond instantly, without conscious thought, to something that the brain believes is life threatening. Our adrenaline pumps, and we feel the physiologic need to run away, bite, reach out, grab or kick, all in response to a perceived threat stored in a more primitive, less conscious part of the brain. It’s a terrible feeling; one that patients say they would do anything to avoid. That’s why a dental fear is such a deeply held, primal feeling.
Patients with a sensitive gag reflex at the dentist, or who have difficulty with novavcaine often struggle at the dentist from a very young age leading to a lifetime of dental fear. Children who have been held down for injections, throat cultures, or minor medical procedures often remember their experience, and point to it as the original source of their dental fear. Victims of abuse as children frequently suffer anxiety and depression as adults and may also manifest dental phobia as well. Over the years, I’ve found that using sedation provides the comfortable dental experience that enables people in need to get help. Often for the first time, people feel like it’s possible for them to have healthy teeth and smiles.
Chronic pain can lead to depression and avoidance of the dentist. Everyone has a limit to their suffering. Intravenous sedation allows us to use every pathway possible to make the dental experience a comfortable one.
Our professional and caring team is dedicated to helping you overcome your dental fear.
Dr. Lou Siegelman
Don’t hesitate to reach out and contact our office with any questions or concerns through our contact page or feel free to give us a call at 212.974.8737.