There is an enormous difference between disliking the dentist and having a dental phobia.
No one gets excited about a visit to the dentist. In fact, most people do not like it.
However, if you are one of the four percent of American adults who suffer from dental phobia, you might just come up with any reason, however irrational, to avoid making an appointment. This puts you at a higher risk of periodontal disease and tooth decay.
Signs of Dental Phobia
Although you may show signs and symptom of dental phobia, you may not have been previously aware that this is a recognized medical condition. Here’s what to look for:
- Insomnia: Inability to sleep the night before you have a dental appointment.
- High anxiety: Feelings of extreme tension or anxiety while you are in the dentist’s waiting room.
- Fear: Feelings of mounting fear when you see dental personnel and/or dental instruments.
- Nausea: Feeling physical ill at the thought of going to see as dentist.
- Panic: Having difficulty breathing or hyperventilating during a dental exam.
If you think you may be suffering from dental phobia, it is important that you seek professional help. It could save your life.
Why People Fear Dentists
Many people who suffer from dental phobia have memories of a bad experience at the dentist, often stemming back to childhood. For example, you may have had a treatment in the past when your anesthetic had not kicked in before the dentist started working on your teeth, resulting in a painful experience. This is more than reason enough to make you afraid of going back to the dentist.
Fear of the dental process itself is another big problem. You may be anxious about having anesthetic or having a dental drill in your mouth. You may also be concerned about having a tooth pulled.
Another reason people fear going to the dentist is because they feel vulnerable sitting in the dentist chair. You may not like lying back in the chair. You may feel you do not have control over the situation. You may also feel uncomfortable having the dentist in your personal space.
Embarrassment is another cause of dental phobia. If you have not been to the dentist for a long time, and your teeth are in bad shape, you may feel uncomfortable about having a dentist look in your mouth.
Finding the Right Dentist
Believe it or not, there are many dentists out there who understand dental anxiety and who have specialist training in dealing with dental phobia. Once your dentist is aware of your phobic condition, he or she can take steps to make your dental visit as comfortable for you as possible. For example, the dentist can fully explain the treatment for you before he or she begins, distracting tactics may be used, and if you are very distressed, you may be given sedatives to help you relax.
You may be interested in checking out an orthodontist who is experienced with patients who suffer from dental phobia, but you may also be thinking, ‘is there a dental office near me who specializes in treating phobic patients?’ A quick Internet search will provide you with a list of the best dental experts in your area.
How to Confront your Dental Phobia
So you’ve found a dentist who understands dental phobia. The next step is preparing yourself for your visit to the dental office. Even if you have a paralyzing fear of the dentist, there are steps you can take to help overcome this.
- Be honest with yourself. Whether you have been avoiding the dentist for years or you recently began to fear going to appointments, it’s time to acknowledge that you suffer from dental phobia.
- Understand the cause. Try to figure out the root of your fear. You can’t beat it until you recognize what’s causing it.
- Consider help. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help wither from a counselor or from a qualified orthodontist.
- Make a commitment. Dedicate yourself to overcoming your fear. Take action now and begin by developing a plan of action to get yourself on the road to good oral health.
The best way to stand up to your dental phobia is to meet with your dentist before you go for treatment. Explain honestly that you have a phobia and ask him or her how they can help you feel more comfortable. Take the first steps today to conquer your fears and take care of your oral health.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Plambeck is a dental marketing professional who writes about the world of online dental marketing as well as educational dental health topics. He lives in Lincoln, NE and raises 2 kids, Noah and Dani, along with his wife Marissa.
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