Dental Fear in America

Dental phobia, called odontophobia, is a serious, often paralyzing fear of seeking dental care. It has been reliably reported that 50% of the population does not seek regular dental care. An estimated 9-15% of all Americans avoid much needed dental care due to anxiety and fear surrounding the dental experience. This translates to some 30-40 million people so afraid of dental treatment that they avoid it altogether.

 

Unfortunately, because of dental phobia, many people avoid seeing the dentist when they could have prevented serious or life-threatening situations.

 

The Typical Causes of Dental Fear:

  • Fear of Pain – Pain is often associated with a dental visit. This can be due to a bad past experience, or from stories shared by someone else.
  • Cost – The cost of going to the dentist is a major reason people don’t want to visit the dentist. This is especially true if they think serious dental work might be required. A recent survey found that 44% of people were not visiting the dentist because they don’t have dental insurance.
  • Fear of Additional Dental Work – Patients fear hearing that there is a problem with their teeth and that they’ll need additional work.
  • Drilling Sound – The sound of the drill can be unsettling especially if they are worried it might be used in their procedure.
  • Tool Fear – A dental office is filled with sharp tools that can be intimidating.
  • Medication Effects Such As “Big Lip” – People fear the effects of the novocaine and anesthesia. The thought of having to deal with a fat lip or feeling groggy can be off-putting.
  • Helplessness – Patients can feel trapped and unable to move while the dentist works on their mouth with sharp tools.
  • Shots – Many people fear shots. Large dental needles going into their mouth can be very intimdating.
  • Fear of Medication Not Working – People can be afraid of the medication not working well enough and that they will be in significant pain from the procedure.
  • Gagging – Some patients fear that they will choke or gag on the tools and water used by the dentist.
  • Self-Conscious – Patients can feel self-conscious with how close a dentist must get to them and that their personal space is being violated. They might also fear that they have bad breath or did a bad job of brushing.

 

Symptoms of Dental Fear

 

  • Trouble sleeping the night before
  • Heart racing
  • Dry mouth
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling of suffocation
  • Hyperventilation
  • Nausea
  • Urge to urinate
  • Urge to gag/vomit
  • Fainting or feeling faint

 

If You Have Dental Phobia We Can Help

 

Many reasons to fear the dentist are no longer an issue because of advances in technology and science. For example, Dr. Beard provides sedation to eliminate almost the entire list of fears by itself. Advancements in tools such as using lasers create a much less intimidating dental experience.

 

If you experience symptoms of dental fear, the best solution is to talk to us. Be open and honest about your fears and let us support you. It is our goal to make you feel comfortable and deliver the safe and complete care you deserve.

You Don’t Have To Give Up Sugar For A Beautiful Smile

Who doesn’t want a better smile? A bright smile conveys confidence. Smiles are one of the first things we notice when meeting a new acquaintance or love interest. If white smiles are desirable, then it would make sense to avoid anything that would dim your pearly whites. Obviously, the best way to keep a bright and healthy smile is to brush your teeth two to three times a day. Tips are thrown at you to stay away from coffee, sweets, and acidic foods to protect your teeth. As much as you might want a model set of chompers, there are many people that rather live life with teeth than without coffee or sweets.

 

Here are a Few Ways to Drink Coffee and Eat Sweets Responsibly

 

Drink Coffee Through a Straw to Protect Your Teeth

 

When drinking a dark, sugary drink like coffee, the best way to protect your teeth is by drinking it through a straw. Drinking your Starbucks venti, extra shot, white mocha macchiato through a straw minimizes the amount of liquid that comes into contact with the surface of your teeth.

 

Eat The Right Kinds of Candy to Protect Your Teeth

 

Sugarless gum is your number one option for a sweet that take it easy on your teeth. Chewing on some sugarless gum after a meal actually helps rinse off any acids or bacteria that may have crowded the surface of your teeth. Sugar-free candies are usually less acidic as well, so they cause less wear and tear that a normal candy would. The saliva you produce by sucking or chewing on the candies also helps neutralizes the acids to protect your teeth.

 

Wash It All Down With Water to Protect Your Teeth

 

After you eat a chocolatey treat there might still be some remaining sugars and bacteria. Left untouched, candy, coffee, and soft drinks, could eat around at your enamel. Water is the best way to wash potentially harmful liquids and food particles away from your teeth.

 

If you follow all of these general guidelines for maintaining a bright and healthy smile, but you still are not happy with the brightness or coloring of your teeth, Dr. Beard and his team at Cosmetic Dentistry offer teeth whitening and brightening services.

How To Properly Brush & Floss

Brushing and flossing are of paramount importance to oral hygiene. Though bi-annual professional dental cleanings remove plaque, tartar, and debris, excellent home-care methods are equally valuable. Proper brushing and flossing can enhance the health of the mouth, make the smile sparkle, and prevent serious diseases now and in the future. So let’s talk about how to properly brush and floss.

Reasons Why Proper Brushing & Flossing Are Essential:

  • Prevention of tooth decay – Tooth decay is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, and its treatment often requires complex dental procedures.  Tooth decay occurs when the acids found in plaque erode the natural enamel found on the teeth. This phenomenon can easily be prevented by using proper home hygiene methods.

  • Prevention of periodontal disease – Periodontal disease is a serious, progressive condition which can cause tooth loss, gum recession and jawbone recession.  Periodontal disease is caused by the toxins found in plaque, and can lead to serious health problems in other parts of the body. Removing plaque and calculus (tartar) from the surface of the tooth using a toothbrush, and from the interdental areas using dental floss, is an excellent way to stave off periodontal problems.

  • Prevention of halitosis – Bad breath, or halitosis, is usually caused by old food particles on or between the teeth. These food particles can be removed with regular brushing and flossing; leaving the mouth healthier, and breath smelling fresher.

  • Prevention of staining – Staining or the yellowing of teeth can be caused by a wide variety of factors such as smoking, coffee, and tea. The more regularly these staining agents are removed from the teeth using brushing and flossing techniques, the less likely it is that the stains will become permanent.

The Proper Way to Brush

Your teeth should be brushed at least twice a day; ideally in the morning and before bed.  The perfect toothbrush is small in size with soft, rounded-end bristles and no more than three months old. The head of the brush needs to be small enough to access all areas of your mouth, and the bristles should be soft enough so as not to cause undue damage to your gum tissue. The American Dental Association (ADA) has given electric toothbrushes their seal of approval; stating that those with rotating or oscillating heads are more effective than other toothbrushes. So whichever kind of toothbrush you prefer, just make sure you use it correctly!

Here is a basic guide to proper brushing:

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle where the gums and teeth meet.

  2. Use small circular motions to gently brush the gumline and teeth.

  3. Do not scrub or apply too much pressure to the teeth, as this can damage the gums and tooth enamel.

  4. Brush every surface of every tooth, cheek-side, tongue-side, and chewing surfaces. Place special emphasis on the surfaces of the back teeth.

  5. Use back and forth strokes to brush the chewing surfaces.

  6. Brush the tongue to remove fungi, food, and debris.

The Proper Way to Floss

Flossing is a great way to remove plaque from the interdental regions (between the teeth).  Flossing is an especially important tool for preventing periodontal disease and limiting the depth of the gum pockets.  The interdental regions are difficult to reach with a toothbrush and should be cleansed with dental floss on a daily basis.  The flavor and type of floss are unimportant; choose floss that will be easy and pleasant to use. However, if it tastes good, that’s even better!

Here is a basic guide to proper flossing:

  1. Cut a piece of floss to around 18 inches long.

  2. Wrap one end of the floss around the middle finger of the left hand and the other end around the middle finger of the right hand until the hands are 2-3 inches apart.

  3. Work the floss gently between the teeth toward the gum line.

  4. Curve the floss in a U-shape around each individual tooth and carefully slide it beneath the gum line.

  5. Carefully move the floss up and down several times to remove interdental plaque and debris.

  6. Do not pop the floss in and out between the teeth as this will inflame and cut the gums.

If you have any questions about the correct way to brush or floss, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or stop by our office! We look forward to seeing you soon!