If you’re afraid of going to the dentist, you’re not alone. Dental anxiety is a widespread problem that affects people all over the world. Some estimates suggest that as much as 75% of people suffer from dental anxiety to some degree. For those who experience truly debilitating dental anxiety, it can even prevent necessary dental visits, damaging oral health and allowing mild conditions to worsen.
But despite how common dental anxiety is, scientists have never quite been able to agree on the best way to quantify it. Over the last fifty years, dentists have created a number of different scales intended to assist dentists in measuring their patients’ anxiety levels.
Too Many Dental Anxiety Scales
Perhaps you’ve taken Corah’s Dental Anxiety Scale, sometimes called DAS. Or maybe you’ve taken Kleinknecht’s Dental Fear Survey (DFS), or Stouthard’s Dental Anxiety Inventory. What about Weiner’s Fear Questionnaire? Or the Fear of Dental Treatment Cognitive Inventory? Or the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS), or the Index of Dental Fear and Anxiety, which is sometimes shortened to the equally excessive “IDAF-4C+.”
All of these tests remain in use, since dentists can’t seem to choose the most effective one from the set. Part of the issue is that each survey takes a different angle on dental anxiety. For example, Kleinknecht’s survey asks patients to mark what physical symptoms of anxiety they experience, such as perspiration or nausea, while the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale requests that patients mark their anxiety level in regards to specific dental procedures, such as drilling or injections.
Because of this wide variance in focus, many dentists even believe that taking multiple tests can help more effectively pinpoint the causes and symptoms of anxiety that each patient experiences.
What Can Be Done?
Regardless of the scale being used, the fact remains that patients know if they have dental anxiety, and something needs to be done about it. No number of questionnaires can cure the fear that prevents people from visiting the dentist for everything from routine checkups to more involved procedures.
Luckily, there are solutions for dental anxiety. For some people, listening to music before or during appointments can help calm mild anxiety. Others may find meditation to be a beneficial practice before appointments.
If you have dental anxiety, the most important first step is talking with your dentist about it. An experienced dentist can work with you to determine the best way to make your appointments painless and fearless.
Sedation dentistry is a great option for anxious dental patients. It’s a safe, simple solution that can get even the most anxious person through anything from a basic cleaning to a complex procedure. Your dentist will prescribe a pill to take before your appointment. You’ll be conscious but calm during the procedure, and things that would normally cause stress or anxiety won’t affect you. Afterward, you’ll have little memory of the procedure.
Is sedation dentistry right for you? If you’re interested in learning more about sedation dentistry in Altamonte Springs, call (407) 834-6446 or contact us online to learn more or make an appointment.