How to Deal with Dental Anxiety

We are all reminded to visit our dentists regularly to ensure good oral health. For some people, however, going to the dentist is one of their worst nightmares. Some may even be too scared to go to one; they would rather suffer from a toothache in silence instead. It may seem like an irrational kind of fear, but dentophobia is a real thing.

What is dentophobia?

In simpler terms, dentophobia is that excessive fear of the dentist. Dentophobics are those who shudder upon hearing the sound of an electric dental handpiece or feel queasy when you sit on a dentist’s chair. Dentophobia is somewhat related to trypanophobia (fear of needles) and iatrophobia (fear of doctors).

There are many reasons people have this excessive fear of the dentist. Among these include:

1. People fear the dentist.

Perhaps it is a common media perception’s fault that medical personnel, including dentists, are often perceived as cold and sadistic. On the other hand, dentophobia may also be triggered by past traumatic experience with a certain dentist which has affected you ever since.

2. You may have low pain tolerance.

Most modern dental procedures nowadays ensure minimal to no pain at all. However, some people have sensitive teeth that even the slightest hint of pain makes them freak out.

3. You are scared of everything inside a dental clinic.

For some reason, just the sight of the dental chair, needles, and even the sound and smell of the clinic itself make you go uneasy.

Maintaining dental health is important, yet it may vary from person to person. However, dentophobia can have a negative impact on a person’s oral health and his/her life in general. You can simply ignore a chipped tooth, but it will rot over time and cause painful tooth decay. Worse, you may have to undergo teeth reconstruction to restore your damaged teeth, and you will have no choice but to end up in a dentist’s chair anyway.

Alleviating your fear of the dentist

The more you delay going to the dentist, the higher the risk that your dental health may deteriorate. More importantly, you won’t be able to conquer your fear of the dentist. It would take some time, but you will eventually get through it. Here are some ways to ease the tension of every dental visit.

1. Let your dentist know what you are feeling.

Communication is the key when addressing your fear every time you sit on a dental chair. Your dentist will be more than willing to help you ease your apprehensions. You can also come up with a signal (ex. waving off a hand or closing your eyes) when you are feeling uncomfortable during a dental procedure.

2. Try distracting yourself.

Ask your dentist if you can bring something that will distract you off the pain and fear. You can wear headphones and listen to music or an audio book while the procedure is ongoing. Some clinics also have a TV inside the room to keep the patient entertained and feel more comfortable.

3. Visit a mental health professional.

doctor talking to her male patient at office

If you have severe dentophobia, it is best to seek medical help to deal with it. There are treatments you can undergo, such as hypnosis and cognitive-behavioral therapy to help you conquer your dental fears.

Dentophobia is common, yet it can be managed. Your dentist can help you conquer that fear as long as you let them know what you’re feeling. After all, oral health is important, and we should take care of it.

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