Why do people fear going to the dentist and what can we do?

Why do people fear going to the dentist and what can we do?

50% of Americans experience some form of anxiety associated with the dentist. Logically, we know there is nothing to fear from going to the dentist, maybe a little discomfort or the cost of a filling, but 22% of American adults have avoided going to the dentist because of fear. That’s 22% of American adults who KNOW that their dental health is only going to deteriorate and they still choose to avoid the dentist. Almost all dental problems are preventable and perfectly treatable with regular visits, so there is no real reason to avoid going.

According to research, the understanding is that dental anxiety is caused by an experience or perception of fear in childhood visits, either with the dentist directly or with expressions of dental phobia from parents, other adults, and in the media. Stopping dental anxiety at childhood by establishing an oral health routine, promoting at-home care and from-home checkups and reports, and preparing children for the unusual experience of their first trip to the dentist can improve lifelong perception.


To understand more about this, we spoke to two of the dentists in our network to see what they think about dental fear, Dr. Brian Vancil and Dr. Ronald Freeman.


What are the main changes you’ve seen in dental care in your career?

Dr. Brian Vancil: It seems nowadays that patients are less loyal to their dentist and more loyal to insurance, often out of necessity. Digital integration has caused a more immediate need for immediate results, similar to the instant gratification people seek online, people expect results within a few minutes.

Dr. Ronald Freeman: Infection control and materials have changed hugely in my 35 years of practice, and overall


What is the best part of your job?

Dr. Brian Vancil: I love building relationships with people, it makes my job enjoyable.

Dr. Ronald Freeman: Simple: making people happy


What changes do you expect to see in the next 5-10 years?

Dr. Brian Vancil: I think we will see more group practices, and more corporate dentistry.

Dr. Ronald Freeman: Continuing changes in materials and methods; financial challenges to patient and dentist are definitely some of the biggest changes I’ve seen.


Why do you think some people are afraid of going to the dentist?

Dr. Brian Vancil: Patients are afraid of both physical and financial pain, by a dentist they don’t know or trust.

Dr. Ronald Freeman: Fear of the unknown, fear of pain and of course, fear of the cost. Loss of control overall can cause anxiety and fear.


How do you help reduce anxiety for your nervous patients?

Dr. Brian Vancil: I truly like to sit, listen, and get to know my patients. They’re not just a chart number, they’re a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister. I treat every patient as if they were my own brother, sister, mom or dad. It’s a simple philosophy, treat others the way you want to be treated.

Dr. Ronald Freeman: I find that if I educate patients, talk to them and give them some kind of control, they are less afraid.


What can people do to overcome their fear of the dentist?

Dr. Brian Vancil: Express their concerns up front. Get to know their dentist, we are just people too. Make sure you find a dentist you like and trust, and your dental health journey will be much easier and be nothing to fear. It’s not politically correct but I simply pray for patients. I pray for them, and that situations and procedures go smoothly. I pray that my hands do what is right in every situation. #BrushFlossSmile


Dr. Ronald Freeman: Control disease through preventive measures. Take care of little problems before they become big problems.

It is logical for the average person to be afraid of the dentist. Only through patience, empathy and education from the dentist and staff can they see the logic of getting dental care. Toothpic gives the patient some knowledge of what to expect and a greater sense of control. Also can provide important preventive education.


If you are nervous about going to the dentist, find out more about how a Toothpic Report can help you to manage your dental anxiety. Get the information you need, when you need it, and take the fear out of the unknown. Toothpic can also help you to find a dentist that accepts your insurance to help to inform you about possible costs for any work needed. Take control of your oral health now.