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Posts tagged “Dental phobia”

Don’t Hate the Dentist, Hate the Dentistry

A trip to the dentist is never greatly welcomed and your irritation and anxiety hardly leads to great feelings of affection towards the person administering the injection.

Paul O’Dwyer has heard many grumbles of complaint over the years and even had a dental nurse count the number of times she heard the phrase “I hate the dentist” in his practice. The average total of 25 times a month is an indication of the amount of negative feeling towards dentists, but Paul is an optimistic and prefers to think they hate the dentistry practiced not the dentist.

True many of us fear that long injection needle and the uncomfortable tug of the pliers during tooth extraction but at the end of the day these procedures are necessary to our overall health. As Paul himself states “Dental health is a necessity not a luxury” but he shares the public’s fear of rising dental fees and hopes that “the new Government will rethink these cuts and help patients to avoid unnecessary dental pain.”

He does have faith that a change of mind is soon to occur, as the dawn of pain-free dental technology arrives. Specialised gel can numb the area before injection, computerised needles can deliver a dosage of anaesthetic at a slow and steady rate, erasing the pain of insertion and drill free drilling removes the discomfort of the drill. These are just some of the inventions now available to the dental profession, with the main aim of reducing the amount of pain you experience at your dentist.

With a reduction in pain, Paul hopes, comes a reduction in distrust for the local dentist and therefore more dental visits and an increase in everyone’s dental health.

New Dental Button puts Patients in Charge of Pain

There’s nothing worse than having a painful dental procedure and the dentist not believing that you’re in pain, or knowing that you’re in pain but insinuating that you should be because of what the procedure entails.

Pain is the thing that keeps many people away from the dentist’s chair in the first place. It is a lot of people’s biggest fear and it is an association that has long since been linked with dentistry that dental professionals would like to recoil and eradicate.

No matter how reassuring they are; no matter how gentle they promise to be, it always seems to hurt and more times than not, squirming and moaning about doesn’t seem to get the attention of the dentist. Aware of these problems surrounding pain and dentistry, a dentist from St. Louis, United States, created the Dental Button—a nifty device that puts the power of the drill in the patient’s hand.

The Dental Button allows patients to stop the drill whenever they feel pain or discomfort, and it helps to relieve dental anxiety. According to psychological studies the reason the Dental Button works, is because patients are more likely to endure the discomfort associated with going to the dentist because they are aware that they can stop the drill whenever they want.

The idea isn’t that far fetched and dentists around the world who have started allowing the use of the Dental Button have reported a 15 percent increase in their business. Patients enter the dentist more confidently with the knowledge that they are in control of their pain. Hey, a little bit of power goes a long way.

Nitrous Oxide Sedation

No matter how often we are told that are fear of the dentist may be unfounded and unnecessary, it remains. The thought of laying back in the dentists’ chair with our mouths open and the drill approaching is enough to unhinge us and keep us away from the dentist for years.

But, sufferers of a fear of the dentist need not feel ashamed and embarrassed. A solution has been found that means you can maintain optimal oral health without feeling like you might wee yourself. The solution? Nitrous Oxide Sedation. Nitrous oxide sedation has been originally used in children to calm them before undergoing dental work and it is one of the safest types of sedation present in the medical world.

The sedation is given in the form of a gas and there is almost no risk involved. What’s more the effects of the sedation vanish quickly after the gas has stopped flowing, meaning you can get back to your normal routine almost straight away.

If you feel that this type of sedation is best for you and will make your visits to the dentist more pleasant, be sure to check with your practitioner about whether they offer this treatment and about any queries you may have involving it.

More Adults fearful of Dentists than Reptiles and Arachnids

Half of the adults in Britain would rather play with snakes and spiders than visit the dentist. This information came as a result of the Adult Dental Health survey held in March by the British Dental Health Foundation. The survey also revealed that women reported as having medium to severe anxiety in relation to the dentist.

In the survey, the 1,004 participants were asked to identify what caused them more anxiety from a list of things including visiting a doctor, visiting a dentist, injections, heights, snakes, spiders and flying. More than one in five participants admitted that visiting a dentist would induce the most anxiety.

The hits keep on coming for dentists, as the survey discovered that participants felt less nervous at the GP than in the dentist’s chair. In fact, nearly 10 times as many people were more nervous at the thought of their dentist than their doctor.

Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: “Everyone in the profession knows that dental anxiety is a major barrier for many people to visit their dentist. What may prove concerning is just how poorly the profession rates in comparison to doctors. The comparison with snakes and spiders may appear frivolous, but it does suggest we still have a lot of work to do to build public confidence.”

Calls for greater controls on sleep dentistry

The Australian Society of Dental Anaesthesiology is calling for the authorities to introduce stronger regulations to control which practitioners are allowed to offer sleep dentistry as an option in their clinic.

Sleep dentistry, where the patient is treated under sedation, is becoming popular as an option for those who are afraid of the dentist or who have a long and uncomfortable session of treatment ahead.

However, many dentists who are not specially trained in dental anaesthesiology are offering the service, despite the fact that using sedation introduces a whole new set of risks to any procedure.

At the moment, dentists don’t need to have any specific qualifications to offer sleep dentistry in their clinics, as patients are always conscious of their surroundings and are merely placed into a dreamlike state, rather than being unconscious as in regular operations.

‘The dentists don’t have the formal training to deal with a medical emergency if a drug overdose occurs and don’t have the proper equipment to alert them if a patient is in trouble,” Dr Douglas Stewart, secretary of the Society said.

”Some dental practices use medical doctors, who do not have training as anaesthetists, to administer the drugs.”

Dr Stewart and his colleagues are urging the Dental Board of Australia to take action to cut down on the number of dental anaesthesiology cases that are carried out by untrained practitioners.

“We need to regulate the rogues who do not have this training,” he said. ”There are a lot of dentists who simply don’t know what can go wrong.”

New product could replace the drill

At the moment, the most common ways for dentists to treat tooth decay all involve the use of a drill, which is not only unpleasant for the patient but can also cause irreparable damage to the healthy tooth material.

Whether the dental staff decide to use fillings, crowns or bridges to treat tooth decay, anaesthetic and a drill will be needed. With tooth decay being so common, a lot of people are having healthy teeth damaged in order to fix the unhealthy ones.

However, a new treatment has been developed that can treat the damage caused by tooth decay without the need for anaesthetic or drilling. The product is a liquid plastic which can be applied by the dentist to any patches showing signs of decay or any areas that already have holes to repair them.

The simple and quick process is easier for both the dentist and the patient, and is ideal for those who suffer from dental anxiety, which can often be linked to factors like the noise of the drill.

The first part of the treatment requires the teeth affected to be cleaned using a special gel, which is then washed off when it has done its job. Once the tooth has been dried, using a simple puff of air, the liquid plastic is applied by the dentist. The product needs to be set in the dental surgery and this is done with the use of a hand-held light.

Icon was developed by a German dental company, but is now also available in the UK.

Dental phobia and serious health concerns

A fear of the dentist is something that is either growing amongst citizens, or people are generally deciding to bite the bullet and let their phobia be known. Nevertheless, putting off a trip to the dentist could lead to serious health concerns going unnoticed.

By attending regular dental check-ups you can have your oral health monitored by your dentist, who can alert you to any problems and make sure you take the necessary precautions. Oral health issues can indeed lead to problems including oral cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

And though dental costs may be one reason for why people are choosing not to attend the dentist, a fear of the dentist is high among the causes. But now there are a range of ways your dentist can help you to overcome your anxiousness in the dental chair.

Such methods include listening to music to block out the sound of the dentist’s drill, sedation techniques to lessen the pain of treatment and generally a team of dental staff who are more understanding of dental phobia and its many forms.

Sadly it is also the case that an adult’s fear of the dentist can attach itself to their child, leading to oral health problems for them as well. But by discussing these problems with your dentist, you can be on the road to recovery to a healthy set of teeth.

Dispelling the myths in dentistry

We all like to think we know what’s best, but for many this can have serious consequences. When, for example, you have misconceptions about dental treatment this has the potential to cause damage to both the teeth and body of children.

Your child doesn’t need braces, right? Or do they, seen as straight teeth are not only beneficial in terms of aesthetics, but also ultimately make a positive difference to oral health.

With straight teeth your child will be able to floss between teeth with greater ease, which can ultimately prevent the onset of serious dental problems such as gum disease, and consequently prevent possible resulting problems such as heart problems or diabetes.

And when should you start worrying about the health of your child’s teeth? Baby teeth will only be replaced by adult teeth so their condition doesn’t matter, right? Wrong.

In order to promote healthy tooth development, children’s teeth should start to be cleaned as soon as baby teeth start coming through. There are special products you can buy for baby’s teeth, or merely using a clean damp cloth can help to prevent bacteria from gathering.

What’s more, it is never too early to take your child to the dentist, even if they are not yet ready for an examination. Merely taking them along with you for one of your appointments can help them to get used to the environment of a dental practice, ultimately helping to prevent the onset of any problems such as dental phobia.

Visit your dentist for a healthy heart

Dentophobes are being urged to take advantage of new technology and visit their dentist – so that they can keep their hearts healthy.

As part of Heart Failure Awareness Week in the US, people who have not visited their dentists for a  while because of anxieties or worries about costs, are being urged to return; not just for the sake of their oral health but so that dentists can check for the first signs of more serious conditions, such as heart disease, oral cancer and diabetes.

There has long been a link between good oral health and good general health, with researchers suggesting that the infection that causes gum disease and tooth decay can get into the bloodstream and cause more serious conditions elsewhere in the body, if the original bacteria in the mouth is not dealt with.

“Recent scientific studies and data show that dentists can spot early warning signs in the mouth that may indicate disease elsewhere in the body,” says Christopher Holden, President of Heraeus Kulzer, a US company that is developing new dental products. “Importantly, dentists’ significant training and education enables them to recognize conditions that merit referring patients for care by dental specialists or physicians,” he adds.

There is no longer any need for patients to fear the dentist as most clinics now do everything they can to help the nervous relax, such as inviting them for pre-appointment visits, playing music during the check-up, hypnotherapy and evens sedation in the most serious cases.

New technologies can also help to reduce some of the anxiety; one new gadget eliminates the noise of the dreaded drill, while a new gel that will be launched soon helps eliminate the pain some patients with gum recession can feel during examinations.

“Patients who forgo annual cleanings may have gum recession, and as a result, they may experience some sensitivity during a professional cleaning,” says Rachel Wall, a renowned dental hygienist and founder of Inspired Hygiene. “Gluma Desensitizer PowerGel promotes patient comfort by eliminating pain associated with dental hypersensitivity,” she adds.

Dental phobics may pass on fears to kids

Researchers in Sweden have found that children who are afraid of the dentist are also likely to have parents who suffer from the same phobia.

Child dentistry specialist Annika Gustafsson from the University of Gothenburg also found that these children were more likely to suffer from other kinds of anxiety or emotional problems.

She surveyed 250 young Swedish people who admitted to having a fear of the dentist, asking them a series of questions about their home life, family history and the way they felt about the dentist and oral hygiene. Most of those who had anxiety issues surrounding dental appointments or taking care of their teeth told Gustafsson that their parents suffered from similar fears.

Gustafsson was aiming to “to investigate how children and adolescents with dental behaviour management problems who received specialist dental care differed from patients of the same age within ordinary dental care.”

Experts advise that parents educate their children in oral healthcare routines from an early age and take them to regular dental appointments, no matter how uncomfortable or nervous it makes them. If parents are so nervous that they cannot accompany their child, they should make other arrangements or look into treatment for their own condition, such as counselling or hypnotherapy.

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