Given that nearly nine in 10 Americans experience some degree of anxiety over dental visits and about one in three have what researchers call “dental fear,” it is no wonder that more than 90 percent of the adult population is suffering from some degree of tooth decay. In fact, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by the time you’re 65 years old, you will almost certainly have some tooth decay because 96 percent of the population does!
What makes this statistic particularly troubling is that it measures the amount of untreated dental cavities in America at any given time. While many people may be on their way to getting treated in the near future, an article in Medical Principles and Practice indicates fully 12 percent of the population has “extreme dental fear,” also known as dentophobia or odontophobia.
“High dental anxiety has been shown to influence quality of life, with low oral health-related quality of life associated with high dental anxiety,” the researchers said. This is not surprising, since we all know how dramatically and constantly a sore tooth or sensitive spot affects our daily lives. Fortunately, there have been a number of technological advances in dentistry that you probably do not know about if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while.
Here are three things about tooth decay (yes, tooth decay!) that will make your day if you hate the dentist.
If you have nightmares about old-fashioned dental drills, then air-abrasion drill-less dentistry is literally your dream come true. Instead of a drill, the dentist uses a spray machine that sprays tiny particles of sand at your tooth to blast away cavities. It is not painful and is easier on your tooth enamel than traditional drilling. It’s also fast! “It doesn’t hurt; it does a better cleaning, and it saves you time,” said Dr. Pat Crawford, a Kenosha, Wisconsin dentist offering the service. “This is great for children and sensitive patients.”
In the “old days,” children and adults who were afraid of the dentist essentially were told to “buck up” and get their teeth cleaned anyway. This led to an entire generation of adults who, after scary incidents with dentists as a child, opted out of professional dental care during their adult lives. Today, however, odontophobia is a recognized phobia, and dentists often are willing to treat patients with these types of fears using sedation dentistry. This type of dental practice involves careful administration of medications to help patients remain calm and relaxed during their dental procedures. In fact, patients often remember very little of their cleaning at all! And if you think that affordable sedation dentistry cannot possibly exist, think again. Many types do not add a significant dollar amount to your dental bill.
If nothing else convinces you to start visiting the dentist regularly, this little tidbit should: If your cavity is spotted early, your dentist might be able to restore your tooth enamel and reverse the cavity using a fluoride treatment! Regular checkups that include dental X-rays and a visual examination by your dentist are the best way to go about staying ahead of tooth decay.
With so many new options in dentistry that have emerged in the last decade, there are plenty of reasons to love the idea of going to the dentist and fewer than ever to justify avoiding doing so. If you are wondering whether there is a dentist who will be a good fit for you in the Kenosha, Wisconsin, area, then give Dr. Pat Crawford a call. His dental practice is affordable and he has access to all the latest technology and training to make your dentist’s visit an event that truly makes your day.