What Is Dental Phobia And What Can Be Done About It?
Ignorance in regards to the importance of maintaining good oral health practices is not the only reason why many people avoid the dentist. Some people experience what is called dental phobia, that is fear associated with visiting the dentist office for treatment. These individuals would rather risk having issues such as tooth pain and tooth decay than going to a dental visit for routine dental care or surgical dental treatment.
Dental phobia is obviously a major threat to dental health care. Learn about what can be done to help you overcome this impediment if you are confronted by it.
What is Dental Phobia?
You may think of dental phobia as a simple fear of the dentist, it is not. Some fear of dental procedures is understandable. When there is only a slight fear of the dentist, usually dental staff and the dentist himself can help to reduce anxiety very easily with compassion and explanations of dental services or procedures. However, dental phobia doesn’t work like this. It is an intense fear of pain that cannot be overcome by a gentle bedside manner.
There are different terms used to describe this fear. They include dentophobia, dentist phobia, dental anxiety, and odontophobia.
It is estimated that 3 in every 4 adults in America have some fear when it comes to seeing a dentist. This fear is intense enough in up to about 10 percent of these people to keep them from visiting a dentist at all.
Is This An Irrational Fear
For some people, this is not an irrational fear. A good number of those who have fear of the dentist have had unpleasant experiences at a dental office in the past. These experiences may have been traumatic in nature or just have to do with the attitude of staff. Dental service providers who are not patient-focused often times will cause patients to be anxious before, during and after the visit.
There are also those who shy away from dental offices because of unpleasant or traumatic experiences reported by other people. Fear of going to the dentist can also arise from painful experiences with doctors in other areas of health.
Dangers of Dentist Phobia
Research shows that people with a fear of the dentist tend to have poorer oral health. They often suffer dental issues that contribute to other, more severe overall health issues. This is because the neglect of your oral health is directly linked to conditions like heart disease and even reproductive issues.
If you are someone that has dental phobia, you may only be willing to visit a dentist when a serious problem has set in. You will then most likely require a complex, more costly and fear-inducing procedures, such as surgical extraction or a root canal.
Trying to maintain good oral health without seeing a dentist is not recommended since these professional have a better understanding of what you should be doing. Poor oral care often leads to tooth decay. If you don’t detect this early or seek treatment promptly, significant enamel loss occurs. This can eventually cause infection in the inner parts of your tooth to bring about intense pain.
You will probably be bold enough to see a dentist only when this pain sets in. But that also means you may then have to endure more be subjected to sedation, which is a more costly anesthetic. There may also be a need for multiple visits to ensure thorough treatment.
What Can Be Done About Dental Fear?
This refers to the use of medications to keep patients relaxed and reduce anxiety during procedures. Sedation therapy, also known as sleep dentistry, is a perfect choice for people who dread dental clinics. In most cases, patients remain awake during a procedure but feel relaxed and calmer.
Types include oral sedation, inhaled sedation, deep sedation, and general anesthesia.
Only a small proportion of dentists are qualified to perform deep sedation and general anesthesia. These techniques are reserved for more complex procedures. Patients are often referred to a general anesthetic, with the procedures performed in a standard office setting.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Fear of the dentist is mental in many cases. It has to do with what’s going on in your head. A psychological approach to the problem can, therefore, be helpful.
CBT is one mental health tool you can find beneficial for overcoming your dental phobia. This therapy equips patients with skills for assessing and beating their fear. Research shows that CBT is so effective that some patients were able to do without sedation during visits to dentists. Relaxation techniques and support systems can also prove helpful to patients in overcoming their fear.
Dental phobia can have significant and undesirable impact on your oral and overall health. You must make the most of all available means to overcome it.
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