Three Tips for Dealing With Dental Phobias and Fears

Millions of people suffer from some degree of dental phobia or fear. The Columbia University College of Dental Medicine states that 30 to 50 percent of all Americans (over 50 million people), suffer from some form of dental phobia. You’re not alone if you’re afraid to visit the dentist or if your fears keep you from getting treatment even when you’re in pain.

Most people feel some nervousness before sitting in the dentist’s chair. Dental phobia is different. It’s a paralyzing feeling that makes your heart beat faster, your mouth go dry, and the blood pound in your veins. Some people may feel so frightened that they cannot take one step out the door to their appointment. Others may cancel appointments just to avoid feeling helpless and terrified. If that sounds like you, you may suffer from extreme dental anxiety or even a dental phobia.

Causes of Dental Phobia

What causes dental phobias? Just going to a doctor or dentist alone is enough to make some people nervous.

Sometimes dentists have a cold, clinical approach to patient care that makes people feel they’re not heard or that the dentist is “just doing his job” and doesn’t care about them.

The sights, sounds and smells of a dental office can cause anxiety in some. Sitting or lying on your back with your mouth open and total strangers poking your teeth and gums isn’t pleasant. For some, it brings up painful feelings of helplessness which they would rather avoid than face.

Others had painful or uncomfortable experiences when they were children or heard awful stories about a relative who had a root canal without pain medication. Unfortunately, the mental pictures conjured up by stories told to us from well-meaning family and friends can lodge in our minds and become just as real as if it happened to us.

Many people cannot point to any one source for their fear; it’s just there, with no explanation. No matter how much logic people use to persuade them to make an appointment, they can’t get over their fears. Their tooth may ache, their gums may bleed, but they cannot step foot into a dentist’s office.

But there is hope. There are options for people with dental phobias and fears.

Three Tips for People Who Are Afraid of the Dentist

Please don’t neglect your dental health. The following tips for people who are afraid to go to the dentist may be able to help you make – and keep – your next dental appointment.

1. Find a caring dentist who understands dental phobias and fears. Not everyone does. A dentist with experience working with people who suffer from dental phobias should have processes, procedures and options in place to ease your fears and make you comfortable. They may differ among dentists since each brings his or her own unique approach to treatment, but all should be sympathetic to your plight and offer you options to make you comfortable during your visit.

2. Ask if positive distractions such as music or DVDs are available. Headphones playing your favorite music can drown out unpleasant sounds during dental procedures. DVD glasses playing an engrossing movie can block out both sights and sounds, transporting your mind far away from the procedure room. Even magazines, books or movies in the waiting room can ease your fears by keeping your mind occupied and away from dwelling on the dental visit. Ask potential dentists what distraction devices or services they may offer before making an appointment if such an approach appeals to you.

3. Consider sedation dentistry with a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Sedation dentistry, also called “sleep” dentistry, uses IV sedation to help you feel relaxed, drowsy and comfortable during your procedure. Sometimes dentists can accomplish several procedures at once while you’re under sedation. However, choose a sedation dentist who works with a certified registered nurse anesthetist. The CRNA monitors your sedation and vital signs during the procedure so that the dentist can focus on your treatment. Dentists who offer oral sedation tend to have their attention divided between monitoring the patient and completing the dental procedure. A dentist working with a CRNA doesn’t have his attention split and can focus exclusively on your dental needs, while the CRNA monitors your vitals and keeps you safe and healthy.

The Right Dentist Is Waiting to Help You

The right dentist is waiting to help you. Even if you have to travel to find a dentist with experience working with dental phobic patients, or a dentist who offers sedation dentistry with a certified registered nurse anesthetist, choosing a caring dentist you can trust is vital for your overall health and well being. Not only will he help you keep your teeth healthy, but also healthy teeth and gums enhance your entire health from head to toe.

Pakistan’s Dental Schools

Studying dentistry in Pakistan takes four years for you to receive a Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree. It is compulsory for you to attend one year internship before you can practice as a registered dentist in Pakistan. There are more than 20 dental schools in Pakistan recognized by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council.

University of Health Sciences
University of Health Sciences (UHS) in Lahore houses the De’Montmorency College of Dentistry, the first school of dentistry in Pakistan. It is the only university in Punjab province providing specialization in dental education. UHS controls and coordinates activities of all medical education, training and research centers in Punjab. About 34 dental colleges in Punjab are affiliated to UHS.

University of Health Sciences
Khayaban-e-Jamia Punjab
Lahore 54600
042 99231304 09

Karachi Medical and Dental College
Located in Sindh province, Karachi Medical and Dental College is the first medical college in Pakistan to be established and run by the city government. It is allowed to admit only 50 Bachelor of Dental surgery students in a year. It is the only institution in Sindh province that fully recognizes oral surgery and Orthodontic program for its postgraduate students. KMDC also has the best dental laboratories and library in the city of Karachi.

Karachi Medical and Dental College
F.B Area Block 16
Karachi 75950
+92 21 632 00200

Jinnah Medical and Dental College
Jinnah Medical and Dental College introduced its four year Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) program in 1999. The school is allied with the University of Karachi and graduates qualify to sit foreign qualifying exams such as USMLE-United States Medical Licensing Examination. Jinnah is permitted to admit only 50 BDS students in a year.

Jinnah Medical and Dental College
22-23 Shaheed-e-Millat Road
Karachi, Pakistan
+92 21 493 8031

Altamash Institute of Dental Medicine
Altamash Institute of Dental Medicine (AIDM) is a privately run institution with international affiliations. Founded in 2001, AIDM offers a four year degree program in Bachelor of Dental Surgery as well as post graduate programs and research facilities for its students. The faculty of Dentistry also carries out scientific research particularly in the latest dental technology in periodontology, implantology, dental laser therapy as well as cariology.

Altamash Institute of Dental Medicine
St-2B, Block 3 Shahra-e-Firdousi
Clifton Karachi 75600
+92 21 587 4070-71

The Dentist and Dental Medicine Throughout History

The historical and archaeological record indicates that the first dental treatments occurred in what is now India around 7000 BCE. The teeth of recovered skulls revealed dramatic reshaping to correct malformed or damaged teeth. Just like your dentist, these ancient oral health professionals used drills to remove the damaged portions of teeth. However, because these ancient people did not understand germ theory or bacteria, they believed holes in teeth were caused by a small worm. In fact, this worm theory is found in records from all over the world including in Japan, China, and ancient Greece.

Further research revealed that fillings were also used in the ancient world as far back as 4500 BCE. This was determined by evidence of teeth repaired using bees wax. Ancient Greek texts indicate a surprisingly sophisticated understanding of oral health. Texts have revealed descriptions of teeth eruption from gums, treatments for gum disease and tooth rot, as well techniques for saving a loose tooth using wire, very similar to modern bridges or braces. In fact, dentistry was a carefully studied field in Rome, which created some of the first dental amalgams, very similar to the metal dental fillings you would get from a modern dentist.

Over time, the medical knowledge of multiple cultures began to converge, resulting in the creation of more comprehensive treatments for oral diseases and injuries. This movement includes the creation of tools built for the sole purpose of dental treatments or extractions. Despite these advancements, there were few true dentists and any treatments were performed by traditional physicians or barbers. A codified study of oral medicine did not begin until 1650 CE. This new study improved not only the quality of oral health procedures but also standardized practices and removed ineffective treatments. One of the most influential men during this period was Pierre Fauchard, who pioneered both prosthetics as well as the creation of a comprehensive oral anatomy text.

The modern dentist did not exist until the 20th century with the erection of dental colleges, which taught the most advanced techniques for both treatments and preventative practices. Especially in America, where modern technology is often embraced the fastest, oral health practices became common. Standardized products like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss appeared on the market, which further improved smiles nationwide.

So, the next time you need your teeth cleaned or x-rayed, remember that you are participating in the same processes as your ancient ancestors, except now we have painkillers.

Cosmetic Dentistry – Dental Technology for a Beautiful Smile

Cosmetic dentistry is a specialized area of dentistry that presents techniques and devices to enhance the appearance of the smile. Cosmetic dentistry ensures a beautiful smile and contributes towards improving the self-confidence of a person.

Cosmetic dentistry is a specialization of dental medicine that focuses on improving the aesthetics of the smile. Procedures pertaining to cosmetic dentistry give attention exclusively to the overall appearance of the smile and not necessarily on the oral health factor, though the two sciences are indeed mutually complimentary. While cosmetic dentistry enhances the appearance, procedures also contribute to improving the oral health of an individual. Cosmetic dentistry includes a variety of procedures, among which teeth whitening is a popular and commonly requested procedure to give quick enhancement.

Teeth whitening procedures will remove stains caused by lifestyle practices such as excessive coffee drinking and smoking, as well as reduce teeth discolorations caused by strong medicines (like tetracycline stained teeth), or caused by aging, and give a brighter smile. Another cosmetic dental option is porcelain veneers, which is a technique that can improve several factors, such as the shape, texture, and color of teeth. Veneers can also be used to improve the appearance of broken and decayed teeth by presenting a natural looking cover. Cosmetic and restorative dentistry combined offers dental bridges to replace a missing tooth or gap between teeth. A dental bridge is created by the placement of one or several artificial teeth by fastening it securely to the two natural teeth on each side of the gap and hence it derives the term ‘dental bridge’. Dental bridges present secure restoration and is known to last up to ten years of more if maintained and cleaned as instructed by a dentist.

Another technique offered in cosmetic dentistry is dentures, which can be ideal for someone missing several teeth due to aging or an accident. Generally, there are two types of dentures to choose from, and they are complete dentures and partial dentures. Each is customized to meet the individuals’ requirement and comfort. Other devices available to improve the appearance of worn or chipped teeth are dental crown. These devices are placed after obtaining an impression of the tooth needing cosmetic improvement and then manufacturing a dental crown or cap using either ceramic, resin or porcelain to meet the natural color of the teeth. Once ready, the crown is fixed permanently onto the tooth using a dental adhesive.

Apart from the listed procedures and devices, there other options, such as cosmetic gum surgery, dental implants, dental fillings, and types of orthodontic treatments also fall into the category of cosmetic dentistry.

Dental Specialties Explained

This article will explain what is involved in dental specialties and what the specialists can provide. A person has to meet qualifications to be labeled a specialist. This is governed by each dentist’s licensing body.

A general practitioner has a Doctor of Dental Surgery or a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from an accredited university. Both degrees are similar, neither implies a superiority in studies. As well they have to attained a certificate at the national level and in some cases they have to have exam certification at the Provincial or State level.

An Endodontist is certified through post graduate studies in the area of root canal therapy and is registered in this specialty according to licensing requirements. Most general practitioners are trained in basic root canal treatment but they often refer more challenging cases to these specialists. When I refer patients to any specialist I take care to explain to my patients that I am not referring them because I don’t want to see them; but, in fact, it is because I want them to received the finest treatment possible and at times cases present that may require more expertise.

A Paedodontist is a children’s specialist. They are trained in sedation techniques in most cases, as young children may need to have more than just local anesthesia to have treatment performed. A nice option is to use nitrous oxide which is known colloquially,as “Laughing gas”. It acts like a mild tranquilizer enabling the patient to perform dental services. In severe cases the Paedodontist will use intravenous sedation. This is an anaesthetic injected into the veins of the patient. It has to be administered with care and usually. Some feel they want to “go to sleep ” while being treated. But it could cause serious problems. As a result there are many precautions taken and often a nurse is present. With increased awareness of oral hygiene procedures most children have sufficient home care to avoid major problems. But, some children are not properly supervised and have considerable dental problems. A serious problem occurs when children are given a bottle of milk before bed. The milk will cause tooth breakdown. Paedodontist often perform orthodontic treatment as well as regular restorations. As well they will do extraction treatment.

Orthodontists are dental specialists who are trained in the movement of teeth. Some people have crowding, others have severe spacing. In most cases the correction of these conditions are esthetic in nature. But in many instances a ‘malocclusion’ or a misaligned bite, can cause severe functional problems in addition to poor appearance.. I do not do orthodontic treatment and I rejoice in the great results they provide my patients. When I graduated it was felt that orthodontics cannot be performed on patients over 15. Now I regularly refer patients who are even in their 60’s, with great results.

Endodontists are specialists who do root canal treatment. When a tooth dies due to trauma, severe decay, or a long standing deep filling, the nerve in the tooth may die. It is a wise decision to preserve the tooth. An Endodontist will remove the nerve tissue and allow the patient to retain the tooth. I do most of my root canal treatments; but, there are instances where the intervention of a specialist is ideal.

Oral Surgeons are specialists who perform surgery as the name implies. They do challenging extractions, take tissue biopsies when there is a suspicious lesion. As well they do sinus surgery and in some interesting surgery they will correct ‘mal-collusions”. The latter are cases when a person may have a protruding or receding chin. This usually involves sectioning the lower jaw and moving it and anchoring it in a retruded or advanced position. They also can place “implants” to create a ‘chin’. Oral surgeons also place the implants on which crowns are added. Implants are a great addition to our practices. They are titanium and the bone sees them as part of the body structure. After the implant is integrated by the tissue we complete the treatment by taking very accurate impressions and place crowns on the structures the laboratories produce with the impressions. It is a very satisfying and well researched procedure.

Oral Pathologists are specialists who evaluate, microscopically, tissue samples they receive from dentists. Some lesions can have serious consequences so this specialty is particularly important.

Dental radiologists are people who are trained in the evaluation of x-rays which can have important diagnostic significance. Some may involved pathologies ranging from cancer to cysts. Their input is another important element in proper oral treatment.

Periodontists are specialists in gum problems. Many people have receding gum tissue due to poor hygiene, secondary responses to disease such as diabetes and hereditary factors such as periodontitosis. The latter is an hereditary condition where the bone tissue around the teeth recedes, this can result in loosening and loss of teeth. I do minor gum surgery and when I was in the Royal Canadian Dental Corps I was more involved; but, it is always a nice feeling to refer to our fine specialists in Ottawa. As well periodontists place implants for me. All in all a multidisciplined specialty who contribute to my patient’s dental health.

Prosthodontists are specialists who are trained in the provision of tooth replacement appliances such as complex dentures and complex crowns and bridges. They are a specialty who often provide appliances for patients who have problems such as cleft palates.

Public Health specialists are administrators who are dentists. They are often involved in the planning of programs which provide dental care for the overall general public., These often include people who are less advantages. In the Canadian Forces they planned what became a seminal program to ensure forces members were brought to and kept at operational fitness. This was a program that was studied by military Dental services world wide.

There are a lot of so called specialties that are prevalent on the net and in advertising. But they are not accredited by any official licensing body. I personally find their assertions a bit of a stretch. Most dentists are ‘family’ dentists in that we will treat all members of the family; but, to present this as a specialty is a tad tacky, at best. There are many so called “Cosmetic” dentists. This is definitely not a recognized or accredited specialty. Most dentists are trained to provide aesthetic results so to claim to be a specialist in such an area is also an ethical problem in my estimation. Many dentists, myself included, take advanced courses in the use of materials. There are many courses that emphasize the latest materials and techniques. A professor in McGill once told us, “Don’t be the first, nor the last to try something new.” A great piece of advice as I have seen many “latest” techniques vanish when they were proven to be less than reliable. So if you see, “We use only the latest techniques”, look askance. Go for the dentist who advertises, ” We use only proven technology”. There are many excellent study promotion organizations. Some offer fellowships on the attainment of specific courses attended;but, again they are not officially recognized accreditation.