Dental phobia is not a new concept, and its estimated that around 20% of Americans will avoid scheduling visits due to fear or anxiety. It can create panic despite the fact that most sufferers know the fear is irrational. Only in cases of extreme pain will a dental phobia ridden person actually seek a dentist office. Sometimes, psychiatric consultation can help battle some of these unnecessary fears.
Specific Types of Fear Associated with Dental Care
You may think you’re specific fear is silly or rare, but many dental phobia cases have similar themes. Let’s look at a few.
Fear of pain is the single most common emotional trigger for dental phobia. This is usually due to hearing horrific stories by others or past dentist procedures. Thankfully, dental technology and advancements have made the way for relatively painless processes or options to help with pain.
Injection or lack of injection effectiveness is another anxiety causing idea. Really, the thought of a needle makes most people uncomfortable, even more so when the needle has to puncture an already sensitive part of the body such as the gums. We’ve also heard of people being concerned that the anesthesia won’t work in time for the procedure to start, so they’ll feel the pain that they were trying to avoid. (This rarely happens, and we’d never just move forward with a procedure without making sure!)
A regular concern that plays out in many ways in anxious people’s life also resonates in the dentist’s office: loss of control or personal space. When a patient is laying back in a chair, their mouth open, and unable to see or know what’s happening, they can feel overwhelmed and fearful. Doubly so, they’re embarrassed about the condition of their teeth or any breathe odor. They may also feel like the dentist is too close to their face and within their personal space.
How to Tell if You Have Dental Phobia
Phobias are usually more than a fleeting thought of worry. It affects other aspects of your life and health. You may have trouble sleeping the nights leading up to or the evening before a dental exam. You may feel emotionally off or physically ill at the idea of going to an appointment. Dental office staff often have to aid in calming a patient with dental phobia if they react to nervousness in the waiting room or while the dentist is performing the exam, with tools in the mouth during dental treatments.
How to Cope with Dental Anxiety
For every facet of fear, there is a mechanism or two to help slow the flow of fearful thoughts and a keep your oral health on track. Consider discussing your worries with your dentist so he or she can work with you and make suggestions to make you more comfortable. This can also help you determine if your dentist is the best one for you. If they don’t make the effort to help put your mind at ease, it may be time to take your business elsewhere. Actively discussing each and every procedure and each of its stages can help alleviate the feeling of helplessness, as well as build trust so that your personal space doesn’t feel as violated.
Some people find that pre-planning a signal for mid-procedure situations when you need the dentist to stop can be a tremendous relief for anxiety. Signals can be holding up your hand or ringing a bell. This can help when something hurts or is uncomfortable, if you need to rinse your mouth out, or you just need to take a few deep breathes and calm yourself down.
Another Reason to Calm Your Dental Fears
Believe it or not, if you are a parent you may be unknowingly teaching your child to fear the dentist. Not only is this unnecessary due to the gentleness of pediatric dentistry, but you could be setting them up for oral issues later if they choose not to do their bi-annual check-ups and take care of their teeth later in life. If for no other reason, get your dental phobia under control so they won’t inherit it.
You Don’t Need to Fear Dentistry
Though the worries associated with the dentist are real, modern dentistry is all about comfort and care. If you need a dentist with experience in making their patients feel safe and anesthetics if that’s what it will take to make sure your oral health is top notch, we’ve got your covered in the Carrollton Texas area! Feel free to give our office a call for a consultation and to meet our staff. We’ll help you get the support you need to overcome fear and get the dazzling smile you deserve.