Dental phobia

This is a more severe form of dental fear in which the affected person refuses to visit a dentist, irrespective of the extent of their problem and level of pain.

Someone with dental fear will visit their dentist but will experience stress and anxiety whilst they are there. They experience a general anxiety whilst at the dentist but manage to undergo treatment.

But someone who is dental phobic will avoid the dentist at any cost.

Problems associated with dental phobia

Someone who is dental phobic is at risk of developing a range of problems, both physical and psychological. These include an increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay; lack of confidence and self esteem; risk of serious medical conditions such as heart disease or a stroke.

These people would rather put up with pain and other symptoms associated with a dental problem than visit their dentist.

Causes of dental phobia

These are the same as for dental fear. They usually involve a bad experience at the dentist’s during childhood which can be anything from an unsympathetic dentist and staff through to a painful procedure.

Many people dislike needles or the drill.

This is often the underlying cause of most cases of dental phobia. Other factors include:

  • Fear of pain during treatment
  • Fear of choking or gagging when instruments are placed in the mouth.
  • Fear of losing control or embarrassing one’s self
  • Fear and dread of certain treatments, e.g. drill
  • History of physical/sexual abuse
  • Feeling that nothing an be done about the state of your teeth
  • Embarrassment about the state of one’s teeth
  • Fear of the unknown

There are people who have formed a negative image of dentists, due to a stereotypical portrayal on television or from lurid headlines in newspapers.

But there is much that can be done to address this phobia. There are a range of methods and techniques which can even be described as enjoyable!

Treatment for dental phobia

These treatments aim to relax you and remove the fear and anxiety so that you will be able to undergo treatment free from any of the causes mentioned above.

The dentist will explain what methods are available to help you to remain calm which include encouraging you to discuss these fears and look at ways of resolving them.

It is better for both you and the dentist if you are calm and relaxed when undergoing treatment. A small amount of nervousness is often to be expected but a state of panic or terror is not and needs to be dealt with for your benefit.

These methods include hypnotherapy, scented candles and oils, virtual vision goggles (you can watch a DVD) and massage. Other options include sedation and if necessary, a general anaesthetic.

Listen to all the options and ask what questions you need before choosing a suitable method. The important issue is to find a technique which works for you and will ensure that you will continue to visit your dentist and on a regular basis.

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