Dental anxiety is very common in the US. Almost everyone experiences some degree of dental anxiety, and up to 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety. For people who have this higher level of anxiety, their feelings can often be traced back to bad experiences at the dentist as a child.

Now a new study shows that caregivers and children are more likely to have this type of bad experience if they are low-income or belong to an ethnic minority.

Dentist examining a terrified young patient

Developing a Survey for Bad Dental Experiences

In this study, researchers used an exploratory sequential design. In this type of experiment, they let the subjects develop the themes of the investigation based on their own experiences. Researchers conducted four focus groups of low-income female caregivers of children under 6 years of age. They talked to these women about what made it easier or harder to take children to the dentist. Based on these focus groups, they developed a questionnaire of relatively common negative experiences, then gave this questionnaire to 1184 caregivers.

They found that about two-thirds of caregivers reported being separated from their children at the dentist. A quarter of them reported that their children were restrained at the dentist (54% of them for routine cleanings), and a quarter reported that their children were given sedating medications for cleanings. In response to the treatment of them and their child, about a fifth said that their experience made them not want to return to the dentist. Caregivers were significantly more likely to report these negative experiences if they were a member of an ethnic minority or if their family income was under $50,000 a year.

Everyone Is Welcome for a Good Experience at City Smiles

At City Smiles, we don’t offer dental care for children (we can refer you to a good pediatric dentist), but we often deal with people whose negative dental experiences as children continue to follow them years later. We strive to make everyone feel welcome at our office because we believe that everyone deserves a good dental care experience.

If you suffer from dental anxiety, we believe that you’ll find our dental office doesn’t induce the same level of anxiety that other offices do. Our comforting, spa-like practice can help put you at ease–it doesn’t feel like a dentist’s office. Dr. Chris Hill and his team have a gentle chairside manner, helping you to feel comfortable in our care.

We also understand that it isn’t always that easy to overcome dental anxiety, either. That’s why we offer the option of sedation dentistry to help you overcome your anxiety. In addition, we utilize the drug-free option of NuCalm, which helps you feel relaxed at the dentist without drugs. Instead, it uses neuroscience to disable your stress response so you enter a state like deep meditation during your visit.

Let Us Help You Overcome Dental Anxiety in St. Louis

If you are struggling with dental anxiety because of bad dental experiences as a child or other causes, we can help. Please call (314) 678-7876 today for an appointment with sedation dentist Dr. Hill at City Smiles, with offices in downtown St. Louis and Clayton, MO.