What Is Dental Phobia?

a dentist who practices Pain Free Dentistry in Las Vegas
April 15, 2024

Dental phobia is nothing to laugh at. If left unaddressed, this condition can seriously impact a person’s ability to access oral healthcare. However, thanks to pain free dentistry in Las Vegas, those who suffer from it can overcome their fear of going to the dentist so they can get the help they need.

a patient with dental phobia needing Pain Free Dentistry in Las Vegas

What You Should Know About Dental Phobia

What Exactly Is Dental Phobia?

Also known as dentophobia, odontophobia, dentist phobia, and dental anxiety, dental phobia refers to the fear of getting diagnosed with dental issues and receiving dental care treatments. This condition encompasses the fear of all minor and major dental problems and procedures, and it manifests itself as avoidance of their dental provider.

When these individuals schedule an appointment, they usually have trouble sleeping the night before, cry, or even have difficulty breathing once they’re in the dentist’s office.

How Much Does It Affect the Population?

Although generalized, dental anxiety or dental fear isn’t a much-explored field of subject, it’s a real phenomenon that affects more than 75% of the adult population in the United States. Of those individuals, 10% experience a more profound fear. As a result, these individuals avoid visiting the dentist for any reason, and their oral and overall health suffers.

What Are the Causes of Dental Phobia?

Previous Traumatic Experiences with Dentistry

In most cases, the primary cause of dental phobia is the fear of pain associated with previous traumatic experiences with dentistry. Since humans generally have long memories, their negative dental visits stay with them long after leaving the dentist’s office. If their previous dental care provider has hurt them in the past, they usually find it challenging to trust any dentist again.

Moreover, sights, sounds, and smells are strongly linked to memory. For this reason, any stimulus associated with the dentist is enough to send their heart rates into the stratosphere. Some patients exhibit manifestations of dental phobia at the sight of a dental practitioner, the sound of a dentist’s drill operating on another patient, or the smell of sterile, clinical odors.

It’s also possible for some patients to develop a fear of the dentist even if they haven’t had any traumatic experiences in the past. In such cases, the fear usually stems from the negative stories they heard from other people. Some of them fear that they’ll end up feeling pain and discomfort as the dentist uses a drill, pulls a problematic tooth, or places a dental implant.

Embarrassment

Patients with severely damaged or decayed teeth are usually self-conscious about the state of their oral health, hygiene, and possible mouth odor. Furthermore, they may feel embarrassed about talking to the dentist about their dental health issues.

Feelings of Helplessness

Some patients aren’t comfortable with the idea of sitting in the dentist’s chair and leaning back with their mouths wide open. They feel helpless and violated since they don’t get to see what’s happening while the dentist pokes around inside their mouths. Besides struggling with the perceived lack of control, the dentist’s invasion of their personal space also reinforces their anxiety.

What Are the Best Ways to Combat Dental Phobia?

The first step to overcoming dental phobia is acknowledging and understanding the root of your fears. Unless you try to figure out why it’s there in the first place, you won’t be able to move past it. After some reflection, it’ll be easier for you to identify whether you’re struggling with mild fears over seeing the dentist or if you have a true phobia.

Mild dental fears are best addressed by simply going to the dentist instead of avoiding it at all costs. On the other hand, a dental phobia tied to an underlying anxiety disorder may call for a combination of therapies and medications.

Find the Right Dentist for You

If you want to feel more comfortable and confident about receiving the care you need, you’ll have to find the right dentist for you. Be sure to look for a practice that offers personalized and high-tech dental treatments, positive reviews from current patients, a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere, and a friendly and caring staff.

Use Relaxation Techniques

It’s best to take some time to get in the right mindset days or hours before your dental appointment. Many patients find it helpful to use relaxation techniques such as meditation, stretches, or deep controlled breathing.

Give Exposure Therapy a Try

Today, a field of psychiatry devoted to dental phobia is specifically designed to assist dental care providers in learning the best ways to ease their patients’ fears. The ultimate goal is to encourage these patients to visit the dentist more often to achieve better oral health.

Exposure therapy is a type of psychotherapy commonly used to address dental phobia because it involves visiting the dentist on a gradual basis. You may start by visiting a dentist’s office without sitting down for an exam until you’re comfortable enough to take on a full appointment.

Talk to Your Dentist

It’s never a good idea to keep all of your fears bottled up. It’s best to let your dental care provider know how you feel so that they can give you the special attention you need. Since dental phobia is so common, your dentist has most likely had a lot of experience helping patients who struggle with it.

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Whether you’re struggling with mild dental anxiety or true dental phobia, contact Dee for Dentist to schedule your consultation today. We’ll gladly discuss specific methods and develop a customized treatment plan to meet your specific needs.

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