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Dental Phobia

May 9, 2021
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Posted By: Paddington Dentistry

Dentophobia (the fear of the dentist) is an incredibly prevalent condition - so if it is something you have experienced, you are not alone!

It is estimated that up to 80% of people have moderate to severe dental anxiety. Dentophobia, the more severe form of dental fear, often arises from poorly controlled dental anxiety. There are different causes of dental anxiety and dental phobias, as each person has unique triggers and stressors. 

Dental Phobia Definition and Symptoms

People with dentophobia experience extreme or irrational fear of going to the dentist. In severe cases, dental phobias can prevent a person from having routine dental cleanings and assessments. Long-term poor dental health leads to additional problems like dental decay and infections, all of which create a more stressful and painful experience at the dentist.

Dental phobia symptoms differ from person to person. Some common symptoms of dentophobia include:

  • Excessive sweating

  • Increased heart rate

  • Loss of consciousness (passing out)

  • Visual distress (screaming, crying, panicking)

  • Avoidance of the dentist

Sources of Dental Fear

There are many different reasons that people develop dental phobias. Many people with dental fear experience stress symptoms from one or more of the following sources:

  • Pain - No one likes pain! We all have different pain thresholds - so what may feel minor to one person can be excruciating for another. Even with advances in modern dentistry, most procedures involve some discomfort which can cause anxiety.

  • The Dentist - Believe it or not, dentists are one of the most feared professions worldwide. Previously bad experiences (even as a child) can dramatically impact one’s perception of dentists. 

  • Needles - Very few people enjoy needles. A common source of stress at the dentist is the needle used to inject a numbing medication into the mouth before the actual procedure. Modern options like using a numbing gel before injection have helped reduce the sting, but many people are still terrified of having a needle put into their mouth.

  • Gagging - Do you have a strong gag reflex? The gag reflex is super important for preventing choking every time we swallow - but if your gag reflex is very sensitive, it can make going to the dentist a miserable experience. 

  • Dental Sounds - While newer dental technology is being created every year, dental noises have remained the same. The noises created from dental drills, picks, and cleaning pieces can be very unnerving for some people.

How to Deal with Dental Phobia

Fortunately, dental fear can be treated with proper support and a good dental team. Dental anxiety is widespread - so approaching the problem with an open mind and a willingness to communicate your needs is a great way to ensure that you get the assistance you need from your dentist.

Some tips to help manage dental fear:

  • Choose the Right Dentist - Not every dentist will be the right fit for your needs. Spend some extra time to pick a dentist that is accepting, compassionate, and makes you feel more at ease during procedures.

  • Explain Your Fears - When you book your appointment, share details about your dental fears. Explaining which sources trigger your anxiety will help the team to be able to assist you best.

  • Remember The You Are in Control - If you feel very stressed during a procedure, remember that you are in control. Taking breaks and communicating with your dentist can help reduce stress.

  • Work Slowly - There is no need to rush through! Work your way up to bigger procedures by breaking up cleaning appointments to reduce stress.

How to get over dental phobias is different for every person. If you have a severe dental phobia that prevents you from going to the dentist, seeking additional medical attention from a mental health professional may help create coping mechanisms.

The Paddington Dentistry Advantage

Paddington Dentistry offers dental care that you can count on. Our team has 78 years of combined experience providing high-quality and compassionate dental services to our patients and families.

We pride ourselves on providing a comfortable and accepting environment to all of our patients. We want to work with you to make your dental experience as easy as possible.

We would love to work with you! To book an appointment with our team, please use our online booking tool.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5992818/