Many people have a high level of anxiety and avoid visiting the dentist. Postponing dental visits out of fear can result in more complex dental problems.

Fortunately, modern dentistry has many innovative products and procedures to make your dental visit a pleasant, painless, fear-free experience. A qualified, compassionate dentist who stays up-to-date with new dental developments can help you successfully overcome your fears, gain a beautiful new smile, and restore your dental health.

You can assess your level of dental fear by taking tests like the one below. You will find links to two other helpful tests on this page: Corah's Dental Anxiety Scale and the Mount Sinai Dental Fear Inventory.

Provide your dentist with your results from these tests so he or she can better understand your concerns and treat you accordingly.


WHY DO I FEAR THE DENTIST?

Dental phobias and anxiety can stem from various sources and lead to a strongly conditioned fear response. The following are the most common reasons for dental fear:

  • Painful or negative experiences during previous visits to a dentist's office — including careless comments from a dentist or hygienist during a past examination
  • Feeling helpless and/or not in control during a dental appointment
  • Embarrassment about dental neglect and fear of criticism and/or belittlement when you go to a dental office
  • Hearing scary anecdotes about negative dental experiences from family and friends
  • Negative, menacing portrayals of dentists in movies, on TV and in newspapers and magazines
  • A sense of depersonalization in the dental process, intensified by the need for precautions such as masks, latex gloves, and shields.
  • A general fear of the unknown
  • A higher than average fear of discomfort or pain
  • A fear of gagging or choking
  • A strong aversion to having people and objects come near your head, particularly objects that are hard or seem even remotely dangerous

What Can I Do About My Dental Fear?

The first thing you can do is realize that your dental fear can be overcome. Fear is a learned behavior and can be unlearned. Behavior modification techniques that focus on treating you as a whole person, not merely someone requiring dental work, can help you overcome your fears. This obviously takes a team approach involving you, your dentist and his or her staff.

Communication is the key. You must feel comfortable expressing your fears and concerns and believe that you are being listened to. If you feel that the dentist and staff are not genuinely concerned and listening, get referrals to other offices. You should never compromise the level of communication that you feel is necessary to give you a sense of control over your experience in a dental office.

Modern dentistry with a compassionate dental team can be truly painless. You can desensitize yourself to your fears if you take the first step and allow the right team to help you overcome your fears.


A Sense of Control

Empower yourself with the knowledge to alleviate the fear of the unknown. As a patient, you have the right to a clear explanation of any procedures your dentist proposes. If you have a question about a particular procedure, don't hesitate to ask it.

You should also have input into treatment decisions and choices. You should be honest with your dentist regarding how much treatment you think you can tolerate at first. As you build confidence in yourself and trust in the team that is caring for you, the length of your appointment and the amount of work accomplished can increase.

A signaling system should be established between you and the dental team, allowing you to stop work for any reason — whether it be because you need more anesthetic, want to rinse out or simply need a two-second break. The most common signal is raising your hand.


Never be Embarrassed

If you have been criticized in the past for your behavior or if you are embarrassed by the dental condition your neglect has caused, express yourself honestly and give your present dentist a chance to understand your concerns and show you that he or she cares.

You will be amazed at the wealth of treatment options available. With modern dentistry, it's never too late to create a new smile!

Prevalence and Causes

Dental phobia is the serious, often paralyzing fear of dental care and is not as uncommon as most people think. An estimated 9%-15% of all Americans avoid much-needed care because of dental anxiety and fear. This means 30-40 million Americans are so afraid of dental treatment that they avoid it altogether.

Avoiding the dentist because of fear can have serious ramifications in terms of your dental health and overall well-being. Today, with advanced treatment techniques and a dentist trained to help you overcome a dental phobia, you can feel comfortable restoring your dental and oral health.

Without regular dental care you are at higher risk for disease and discomfort:

  • Chronically infected gums and teeth can lead to unnecessary tooth loss and can affect your overall health.
  • Poor gums and bone loss can affect your ability to chew and digest.
  • Unhealthy gums and teeth can affect your speech.
  • Insecurity about your breath and smile can undermine your self-confidence.

All of these can lead to poor nutrition, the inability to enjoy eating, discomfort, embarrassment about your appearance, and serious limitations in both your social and business environment. We can help you conquer your fear of dental procedures and restore not only your dental health but your smile and self-confidence as well.

How We Treat Fear

The Dental Phobia Treatment Center of New York uses systematic desensitization, a controlled form of exposure therapy that gradually breaks down the pervasive fears associated with dental procedures. We have determined that gradual exposure to the dental process in a welcoming, relaxing environment is the best way to defuse your fears and anxieties.

Dr. Krochak has specialized in the treatment of dental phobia for more than 30 years and has extensively lectured, published and been interviewed by the media on the subject. He founded The Dental Phobia Treatment Center of New York because he recognized that addressing the patient as a whole person is key when dealing with dental phobia.


Our Treatment for Conquering Fear

Explanation and clarification of any and all procedures

If you have a question about a particular procedure, we will answer it. In fact, we encourage you to ask questions and empower yourself with knowledge to alleviate fear of the unknown

A calm, comfortable, friendly environment

We do everything to ensure that you are greeted by a smiling, friendly staff in a quiet, orderly environment. With aromatherapy and an array of amenities from iPod and virtual reality eyewear to warm neck pillows, we make sure you are at ease.


Assurance of minimal or no pain

You won't have to worry about feeling pain or discomfort. We make sure that you are properly anesthetized for the procedure we are performing, and we use a technologically advanced painless injection device that eliminates the need for a syringe.


Relaxation techniques

A relaxed body promotes a clear and relaxed mind. A dental environment, in and of itself, can often induce phobias. Our office environment is designed to calm you, but we also have specific well-established techniques to help you relax during your visit:


Deep Breathing

Nothing eases and relaxes your body like a good deep breath. We teach you diaphragmatic breathing that allows you to deepen and expand your breathing.


Once you experience this treatment, we are confident that you will feel completely comfortable about coming through our doors. We have a 95% success rate treating patients with a fear of dentistry, as measured by patients returning for scheduled maintenance visits.

Painless Injections / Dental Wand

Achieving painless treatment requires a high level of understanding of how nerve anatomy varies from person to person and even within each person's mouth. Drs. Krochak and Perlman are not only sensitive to each patient's anatomy and tolerance for pain, but he carefully assesses just how much local anesthetic is required for a painless procedure.

The key to a good dental experience is effective, nontraumatic injection of local anesthetic. Dr. Krochak helped develop a revolutionary painless injection device that eliminates the need for hypodermic syringes, which in themselves can cause nervousness and fear. This computer-controlled local anesthesia injection system can provide a nearly painless injection.

The syringe is not what causes the main discomfort when local anesthetic is injected; it is the pressure and volume of the fluid going into the tissues. The microprocessor inside this painless injection device automatically compensates for different tissue densities so the anesthetic is delivered at a constant pressure and optimal flow that are typically below the threshold of pain. The result: no more dental syringes and no more pain!

Better Hearing Through Dentistry

A revolutionary removable dental appliance called The Soundbite System has been developed to help patients who have suffered single-sided hearing loss. This noninvasive appliance is an alternative to having a cochlear implant surgical procedure in your skull.

A small microphone is worn in the affected ear. Sounds are then transmitted to the device which is worn around your two upper back teeth on the side where you have a properly functioning cochlear. The sounds are then transmitted through the surrounding bone of these teeth into your cochlear so you can now hear sounds from both sides without having to turn your head or always positioning yourself to be able to hear others.

Dr. Krochak works with various audiologists in New York City to help construct this device. He is uniquely trained in this system and one of only a few dentists nationwide who has this training.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea are caused by a constricted airway in your throat during sleep. One of the reasons this happens is because your tongue collapses back into your throat. Sleep Apnea is a serious disorder where your body gets an insufficient amount of oxygen at night compromising the reparative and restorative value of sleep. Snoring is often a symptom of Sleep Apnea but doesn’t necessarily mean that you have Sleep Apnea. The most typical symptom of Sleep Apnea is an excessive degree of tiredness in the afternoon and/or a compromised ability to concentrate at this time as well. A diagnosis needs to be made at a Sleep Lab assessing your degree of compromise.

The classic treatment for Sleep Apnea is the use of a C-PAP machine (Constant Positive Air Pressure) which requires being tethered to an oxygen tank every night. Because this is often uncomfortable and inconvenient, the patient compliance rate is often low with C-PAP machines.

The 2nd most common treatment which helps both simple snoring and Sleep Apnea is the use of a removable dental appliance that is worn at night. This appliance repositions your lower jaw and tongue to be more forward and opens up your airway allowing proper oxygenation during sleep. Dr. Krochak has taken Sleep Medicine courses and has been successfully making these appliances for over ten years.

In addition to ongoing professional training in the latest procedures, Dr. Krochak and Dr. Perlman are committed to using the latest proven equipment and methods to provide the highest level of dental care to their patients. Here are a few examples.


Intraoral Camera

Incredible technology has been developed allowing dentists to use a small intraoral camera the size of a thick pen to take photos of your teeth and directly display them onto a computer screen in the treatment room. Although you may not want to see all of the graphic details of your teeth, it is a tremendous aid in helping you understand the condition of your teeth and existing restorations. This information will empower you to help “co-diagnose” your own dental conditions and make better informed decisions as to the best course of treatment for your particular needs. In our office, we take our responsibility seriously to inform you fully of not only your conditions, but all of your options to achieve optimal health and the pros and cons of these options.


Computerized Cosmetic Imaging

After taking a digital picture of your smile, the doctors can show you the expected results of your treatment so that you have a realistic idea of what you will look like before you commit to treatment.


Digital X-Rays

The newest method of x-rays for your teeth drastically reduces radiation compared with film x-rays. Your x-rays are immediately processed and presented on a computer screen for instant interpretation and discussion. The images are clearer than film x-rays and can be enlarged for easier diagnosis and illustration of your condition.


DIAGNOdent SystemTM

The DIAGNOdent laser can accurately detect tiny cavities before they are visible on x-rays or cause significant tooth damage. Identifying these cavities at their beginning stages allows the doctors to perform minimally invasive bonding procedures to seal these areas and preserve your natural tooth structure.


Painless Injections

The key to a good dental experience is effective, nontraumatic injection of local anesthetic. Dr. Krochak helped develop a revolutionary painless injection device that eliminates the need for hypodermic syringes, which in themselves can cause nervousness and fear. This computer-controlled local anesthesia injection system can provide a nearly painless injection.


Invisalign Invisible Braces

Using this new technology, digital images of your teeth are scanned into a program that allows virtual orthodontics to be performed. Based on these results, a series of clear plastic aligners are fabricated to custom-fit over your teeth. The virtually invisible aligners create a steady, imperceptible orthodontic force that slowly moves your teeth into a new position without the use of any metal braces or wires. These aligners are removable so normal hygiene procedures can be performed and your periodontal health maintained.


AcceleDent

AcceleDent is an exciting new hands-free device that utilizes safe and effective micropulses to reduce orthodontic treatment times. The gentle pulses from AcceleDent paired with treatments like Invisalign result in a straightened smile up to 50% faster. Operating the AcceleDent device is simple and only requires a 20 minute daily usage.There is a wealth of information about how AcceleDent works on their website and we are of course happy to answer any questions you may have as well.

Caries (tooth decay) is the technical term for the bacterial infection that causes cavities. Our office is now certified in CAMBRA (Caries Management By Risk Assessment), a completely preventive approach to minimize decay in your mouth. We can perform a risk assessment including the use of equipment that evaluates your particular dental plaque for decay causing potential. We can now measure and quantify your particular level of decay producing organisms! This test takes 15 seconds to perform.

Extensive research has now shown that dental caries is a “biofilm disease”. A biofilm is a diverse community of bacteria attached to a surface interacting as a self contained ecosystem. Dental plaque is a biofilm. Biofilm bacteria are 1000 times harder to kill than free floating bacteria. Therefore dental caries is much more complicated than previously thought.

If you are at high or moderate risk, we now have many preventive strategies that can be used to minimize the decay process instead of waiting to repair holes in your teeth. The use of prescription fluoride toothpaste, the application of fluoride varnishes, ph-altering rinse systems, xylitol products and the use of a calcium phosphate paste to provide your saliva and biofilm with the necessary ingredients to reverse and repair decay naturally are some of our available treatments. Please speak to the doctors and hygienist about how we can help prevent decay!