Dental phobia is an extreme fear of going to the dentist that can cause you to avoid getting needed treatment. Most dental fears are based on negative experiences in childhood or hearing about others’ negative experiences.
While a phobia may seem irrational, it can have devastating effects on your health. This article will help you get past your dental fears so that you can get the oral care you need.
Dental anxiety and fear are real, and people with dentophobia should not feel ashamed. Many dentists are trained to treat phobic patients and can offer services like sedation that can help you feel more comfortable during treatment. However, avoiding going to the dentist can have serious consequences for your oral health.
If you have a severe dental phobia, you should consider seeing a mental health professional like a psychologist to formally assess your symptoms. This will give you a diagnosis and will allow your healthcare provider to recommend a treatment plan.
The most common cause of dentophobia is a traumatic experience, particularly as a child. However, even a mildly negative experience can be enough to trigger dental anxiety in some people. For example, a child who feels embarrassed by having to open their mouth in front of strangers may start to develop fears of having to open their mouth for dental treatments.
Other possible causes of dental anxiety include a family history of anxiety disorders, a genetic predisposition to anxiety, or exposure to phobic behaviours from a parent or sibling. In addition, a traumatic event such as being involved in a car accident can also trigger dental anxiety.
Dentophobia is an intense anxiety disorder that causes people to fear going to the dentist. It can lead to severe health problems if left untreated. It also prevents people from getting the regular dental care they need, which can lead to poor oral health and other issues like TMJ and sleep apnea. There are several treatments for dental phobia, including exposure therapy and hypnotherapy. Some patients benefit from anti-anxiety medications that can help them relax during treatment.
Exposure therapy is a type of psychotherapy that involves gradually exposing the patient to situations and images that may trigger their symptoms in a safe environment. This is one of the most effective treatments for dental phobia. It starts with low-level exposure to the dentist, such as visiting the office without any procedure being performed or observing other people visit the dentist. The person with dental phobia can then practice using coping techniques and other methods to control their responses, such as deep breathing, listening to music, or repeating a calming phrase.
Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of exposure therapy for overcoming dental anxiety. In fact, a study conducted by Townsend et al. showed significant trait and state anxiety reductions for participants in an exposure group versus those in the informational pamphlet control group at 1 week, 3 months and 6 month follow-up.
There are a number of dental relaxation techniques that your dentist can use to help you feel calm in the chair. These include deep breathing exercises, meditation and mindfulness techniques (like focused attention and cognitive behavioral therapy), hypnotherapy, and the use of dental sedation. Sedation is typically nitrous oxide (laughing gas), pills taken orally, or IV sedation.
Distraction is another great way to lower anxiety levels during a visit to the dentist. Listening to music or audiobooks via headphones, bringing a fidget toy, or even talking to a friend can help keep your mind off the dental treatment. Acupuncture is also a popular technique for many patients. Trained acupuncturists insert hair-thin needles into body points to relieve stress and anxiety.
If you’re struggling to get through a fear of the dentist, try to remember that most phobias can be beaten. For every story in the media about a phobic patient who avoids treatment, there are a lot more stories of people who overcome their fear to receive the care they need. It might take time, but the effort will be worth it in the end. Taking the first step to overcome your fear and talk to your dentist can be the best decision you make for your oral health. Your doctor will be able to work with you to come up with strategies for managing your anxiety that are specific to your unique situation and needs.
Talk to Your Dentist
For every story about a patient who was so terrified of the dentist that they avoided treatment for years, there are many more stories about patients who conquered their fears and were able to get the help they needed. The important thing is to understand the root cause of your fear, so you can work towards overcoming it.
It is also crucial to let your dentist know that you have anxiety so they can try to accommodate you as best they can. They may offer other options such as sedation, a calm environment, or alternative therapies like hypnosis.
Another key part of getting over dental anxiety is to take small steps and work up to going for appointments. For example, if you can’t bring yourself to see your dentist right away, try visiting the surgery to meet them and get used to their practice. You can also learn breathing and relaxation techniques to ease your tension before and during your visit.
Putting off dental visits has significant consequences for your oral health and can even affect your overall health. Avoiding the dentist increases your risk of gum disease, early tooth loss, and other serious problems. In addition, a lack of routine cleanings means that small cavities won’t be treated, and will worsen over time. This can lead to more extensive, expensive dental work in the future.