The American Association of Endodontists recently reported results from a survey about dental fear. About 80% of adults fear the dentist in the US. This sounds crazy, but the survey shows that adults fear a root canal almost as much as flying in an airplane during a storm! Just over 40% fear a root canal more than a job interview or public speaking. Why are these folks so darned afraid of the dentist?
Root Canal Number-One Feared Procedure
The primary cause for dental phobia is fear of pain, and a root canal is the most feared procedure. In regards to root canals, about a third of respondents base their fears on stories they’ve heard from other people, not from their own experience. Funny thing is, the AAE says that most root canal patients consider their procedure positive. And just so you know, Root Canal Awareness Week is March 29 – April 4.
The AAE recommends open communication, asking questions, distractions, and using a specialist for root canal patients with fear issues.
Levels of Dental Fear & Resources for Dentists
If you’d like to know more about helping patients successfully overcome dental anxiety, explore Dental Fear Central, an online resource for patients and professionals. The website features information about common fears, a guide and forum for fearful patients, and a network for professionals, which includes information on sedation, anesthesia, hypnosis, relaxation techniques, and a discussion forum.
Dental Fear Central differentiates dental anxiety, fear, and phobia from one another. Anxiety is toward the unknown; fear is toward the known; and phobia is a more intense form of fear. Causes of dental phobia include bad experiences, history of abuse, uncaring dentist, humiliation, vicarious learning, preparedness, and post-traumatic stress. The Norman Corah Questionnaire will assist you in detecting and defining the level of dental fear in a patient. Download the form, and use it in your practice if you like. You can also print posters for your office that will educate patients about dental fear. Find them here.