Dental Fear

Dental fear is a very common condition which causes many people to avoid dentists and dental treatment. The problem with this is that they can develop serious dental problems which could have been dealt with much sooner and at a lot less time and expense.

Most people have memories of the dreaded drill or other equally unpleasant experiences which have put them off from visiting their dentist. This is further compounded by other people’s stories of visiting the dentist which then makes them even more reluctant to see a dentist.

In some cases they will put up with severe pain and discomfort or attempt to treat their problem themselves rather than see a dentist.

But dentistry has changed and includes a variety of techniques and methods designed for nervous patients which will ease any fears they may have. There are dentists trained to deal with dental phobia that will approach this in a sympathetic and understanding manner.

The two main issues are general anxiety and dental phobia. Both of these are discussed in more detail in separate sections.

What is dental fear?

To put it simply, dental fear is a state of apprehension at visiting the dentist or anything to do with dentists and dental matters. This causes both physical and psychological symptoms which include nausea, dizziness, nervousness and dread.

More women are affected than men although this may be due to a greater reluctance by men to admit to this fear.

Causes of dental fear

There are several reasons for this which includes:

  • Bad experience in childhood
  • Bad relationship with the dentist
  • Embarrassment about your teeth and oral hygiene
  • Fear of pain
  • Fear of a lack of control
  • Uncaring or unsympathetic dentist
  • Worry about the cost of dental treatment

These are all understandable fears. This is not something to be ashamed about or a sign of weakness in some way. Many people do not enjoy visiting the dentist but will not admit this to themselves or others so there is likely to be more people than we realise who have a fear of the dentist.

Treatment for dental fear

There are a variety of treatments for dealing with dental fear which are discussed in more detail as individual sections. These have been developed over the years and combined with a greater awareness of this condition mean that you can be cured of this condition.

Many dentists are trained in dealing with dental fear/phobia and employ a variety of strategies which include pain free injections (e.g. The Wand), sedation, distraction techniques and numbing gels.  

It is important that you find a dentist who is specially trained to deal with dental phobia and will listen to your concerns in a sympathetic manner. Be open and honest about these fears so that the dentist is fully aware of your nervousness and will treat it accordingly.

If your dentist and/or staff are unsympathetic or uninterested then go elsewhere.

You may find it helpful to talk about your fears with others via a self-help group or counselling. Consider using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing which can steady the nerves and avoid foods/liquids which will increase your adrenaline, e.g. caffeine and anxiety levels.

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