Here at Dr. Marc Lazare’s New York City practice, we welcome all patients suffering from anxiety, fear, or simply those with a phobia of going to the dentist. We understand how debilitating dental anxiety can be, and how hard making such a visit can be for you, and we want to let you know that we’ll take many measures to ensure you have a safe, comfortable, and painless time during your appointment with Dr. Marc Lazare. Call us at 212-861-2599 or fill out our online form to learn more about what we offer and what we can do for you to better control your pain, anxiety, or fear.
We aren’t born afraid. Fear and anxiety develop out of socialization, personal experience, and the mass media (movies, television, news stories, etc). These very serious issues, while sometimes normalized, may affect anyone’s quality of life to great effect. Simple things like going to the mall or grocery shopping turn nightmarish, and the same goes for health-related tasks, such as doctor and dentist appointments. There are many individuals that are legitimately scared of dentists. These emotions are displayed through anxiety or fear, which is another way of saying “dentist-phobia.” These patients want a fear-free dental experience, one where pain and anxiety can be controlled somehow. Sometimes, a dentist for fearful or anxiety patients is hard to find, but not impossible.
The right dentist with understanding, tolerance, empathy, and gentle touch will have the power to transform a frightened, anxious and on-edge patient into a dedicated, calm, and stable one. We hear stories all the time. Somewhere, in other locations, you’ll get your intolerant dentists that convey a negative attitude, make disrespectful angry remarks, or make the wrong actions that only add to the patient’s anxiety and dentist-phobia. Phobias usually emerge out of an individual’s trauma regarding a peculiar situation, which is typically based on past encounters combined with previous bad experiences.
Difference between Fear, Anxiety, and Phobia
|Fear||an individual’s emotional response to a perceived threat or danger|
|Anxiety||an emotional experience similar to fear, but where the source of threat is ill-defined, ambiguous, or not immediately present|
|Phobia||a special form of intense fear recognized by that individual as excessive or unreasonable in proportion to the actual level of danger|
How You Can Overcome Your Fear of the Dentist
So many people could benefit from quality dental care but opt not to receive treatment because their fear and anxiety issues hold them back. What produces the most fear is the sound of the “drill” and the “needle.” This is understandable. Even people that don’t have these particular issues fear paying a visit to their dentist (we can blame the movie Marathon Man for that). It’s natural for individuals to feel fear or unsettled while sitting in the patient chair, however, when the dentist gives them some numbing treatment prior to the procedure, they feel alleviated to the point of almost nodding off. An anxious or fearful patient may very quickly find that the injections often used in these dental check-ups and appointments aren’t all that terrifying. Patients often focus on the build-up and spend all that time in agonizing horror of the needle, that by doing so, they perceive the pain and shock factor to be far more drastic than what it really is — a pinch.
There are numerous studies that find it’s imperative for individuals to feel like they are in control or have some sort of power over any potential risk. In such cases, the right dentist will be able to convince their patient through action or communication that they (the patient) can choose to halt the procedure whenever it gets too much (through actions like raising my hand). This way, less fear, and less pain will be experienced. When patients feel like they have no control or say in what’s going on during the treatment, they may experience a sense of powerlessness and total lack of control, which only makes their anxiety, fear, or sensation of pain that much stronger.
There are apprehensive patients that need reassurance and to be told the outline of the treatment ahead of time to know what to expect. This would include warnings of changes in sensation during treatment, such as sudden pressure, vibrations, what they are likely to experience next, and more. Not having this information may result in putting fear in the patient. By developing this dentist-patient trust, a once fearful individual can have a peaceful experience during their visits.
Tips on How To Manage Anxiety In The Dentist’s Office
While not everybody will react the same way to their scheduled appointment, here are tactics that can help you control your fear & anxiety issues while in the dentist chair:
- Learning methods of relaxing
- Breathing in and out
- distraction techniques such as fidget gadgets
- asking questions to gain control
There are also ambient and sonically pleasing techniques that can be used to make the visit as comfortable for you. Such relaxation techniques include:
- relaxation music
- Movies, and more
If these relaxation techniques don’t work, there are other ways to manage apprehension and fear, though these are often a last-case resort. These can include Nitrous Oxide (also known as laughing gas), Oral Premedications (ie. Valium, Ambien, and Xanax), IV sedation, and painless injections following a topical numbing ointment. Obviously, having the right dentist and staff that are patient, understanding and comforting is the most significant factor in managing anxiety, fear, and dentist-phobia.
Steps You Can Take To Prevent Dentist Fear In Children
Factors contributing to a positive outlook on dentistry involve early encouragement and positive communication by parents, and relatively pain-free experience with a dentist who communicates with the patient treats them with respect and allows the patient to have some say in their treatment if they desire. Starting kids early on their appointments and making the visits fun can make a difference. Some things parents can do to make the appointment as fun for their little one can include:
- magic tricks
- balloon animals
- counting teeth
- brushing the teeth models
- seeing their teeth on the TV screen
- playing fun music
- having their favorite shows or movies on
These kids will develop a positive association with the dentist and look forward to future visits. Never use the dentist as a threat if they don’t brush or if they eat too much candy. If you make the dentist out to be the bad guy, they will carry that thought with them throughout their adult life.
What Happens If I Avoid The Dentist For Too Long?
Over time, a small cavity that could’ve been easily treated can snowball into something far more catastrophic if ignored long enough, possibly needing a root canal procedure, extraction, or other dental surgery. A few people try to “deal with” their toothache until the agony they experience goes beyond control and are left with no choice but to make a dentist appointment. But this is far more common than you think. The fear of pain is so great sometimes that individuals will willingly forego dental care to avoid that pain. By then, however, what ought to have been a straightforward cavity treatment now requires a far more intrusive solution.
Additionally, a patient who avoids routine dental cleanings and gum maintenance can wind up with severe gum disease which causes gum recession, bone loss, tooth mobility and the eventual loss of teeth. Swellings and infections may result from neglecting these cavities and gum issues, and what would have been unnecessary costs and procedures will now be necessary to restore the mouth to a better state of health and function.
Why Choose Dr. Lazare?
Dr. Marc Lazare is one of New York’s leading dental professionals, specializing in many treatments, techniques, and facets of dentistry, such as periodontics and biomimetic. Dr. Lazare has given countless lectures and is regarded as a “Dentist to the Stars” because of his extensive celebrity client list.
- B.A. University of Pennsylvania (Major: Natural Sciences)
- D.D.S. New York University College of Dentistry (Class President)
- Intern in General Practice Residency Program, Department of Dentistry North Shore University Hospital, Manhasset, N.Y.
- Chief Resident in General Practice Residency Program, Department of Dentistry North Shore University Hospital
- Present Active Member of the Attending Staff- North Shore University Hospital
- Present Member of the Clinical Faculty- NYU College of Dentistry
- Master in the Academy of General Dentistry – Awarded in 2011
- Serves on the Board for the Academy of Biomimetic Dentistry
- Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry
- Fellow in the International Academy for Dental-Facial Esthetics
- NEW YORK LICENSE #046840 ISSUED1996