Scheduling regular dental checkups is essential for the health of your teeth and mouth. Aside from brushing and flossing you should visit your dentist at least twice a year. Taking a seat at the hot dental chair is definitely not a pleasant experience for most people. Some experience a slight anxiety just with the thought of undergoing a dental procedure. Others are affected by an extreme fear that cannot be controlled. Fear is a normal response, that is a part of the human nature. Also, a grown-up person should be able to find ways to control it.
What is Dental Phobia?
This is a condition that is also known as dental fear, dentophobia, dental anxiety, and odontophobia. A wide number of people are affected by dentophobia, and that has a direct impact on their oral health. Dental phobia and dental anxiety are a bit different in terms of intensity.
Dental anxiety is characterized by fear, but it is a normal thing to happen. Most of us feel very anxious before visiting the dental office because we are aware that some of the procedures can be painful. There are certain factors that can trigger this anxiety. Some people get nervous by only thinking about it, others when they walk into the office, smell the dental materials, or when they sit on the dental chair. For some patients, the anxiety starts the moment when they hear the sound of the drill. This is the most common trigger factor. It is a controllable fear, that doesn’t prevent patients from scheduling a regular checkup.
Dental phobia, on the other hand, is an unbearable fear, and these people can’t cope with the thought of visiting a dentist. This is a serious condition that leads to many other problems. These patients neglect their oral health and end up losing their teeth. Even if you floss and brush regularly, visiting the dentist is a must. Dental caries appears in spite of perfect oral hygiene and it has to be taken care of by a dentist. Another problem that these people are struggling with is gum disease. In time, if they don’t get these conditions treated, they can lead to fractured teeth, bad appearance and even loss of teeth. This situation might affect their self-confidence, and make things even worse.
Causes of Dental Phobia
Most of the patients that avoid a dental visit have had a very unpleasant previous experience. Unfortunately, this can lead to dental phobia especially with kids. If they suffer from strong pain during the procedure, the chances are they will not want to do it again.
Pain is the main reason that people develop dentophobia. It is a defense mechanism, that patients develop. This has to be dealt with from the early start, otherwise, it will have a negative impact to the oral cavity.
Other causes include a feeling of not being in control, fear of a medical emergency, not trusting the doctor, embarrassment and more.
Symptoms of Dental Phobia
There are several symptoms that people with dental phobia and anxiety experience. First of all, they feel an unpleasant feeling each time they think of going to the dentist. They usually don’t get any sleep the night before the checkup. When they arrive there, the patients will become even more anxious, start sweating or even feel the need to vomit. The breathing and heart rate is accelerated. Different patients show these symptoms with different intensity. Some of them don’t even want to get close to a dental office. Others, do experience all of this but end up getting the procedure anyway.
How to Overcome Dental Phobia
Patients that are experiencing these symptoms usually have had an unpleasant dental situation in the past. The first step is to find a dentist that you will feel comfortable with. Some of them will only make you more nervous. Others will have just the right words and attitude and will help you overcome the initial steps.
Once you decide that you have to schedule an appointment you have to work on your fear. Start by being positive, and telling yourself that you can do it. If you are feeling too nervous, just try and calm yourself by listening to music or reading. Occupying your thoughts with something else will do the job. There are many relaxation techniques that you can do, that will help you control your breathing, heart rate and relax the muscles.
When you visit the dental office, during the first appointment the dentist will only do a checkup. There will be no drilling, sounds or pain. Just being in the room, and talking to the dentist might make you feel more prepared for the next visit. The best time to go is early in the morning, and make sure to always take a friend with you. The best procedure to start with is a simple oral cleaning that doesn’t hurt and doesn’t cause any discomfort.
Let your dentist know that you are suffering from dental phobia during the first encounter. They have to be aware of this. When they are performing a procedure, you have to agree on a sign, just to let them know when you need them to stop. While you are sitting on the chair you can bring your headphones and play your own music.
Each time that you visit the dentist, he will be able to give you details on the procedures he will perform. That way you will be familiar with everything that will happen and you won’t have to worry about anything unexpected. They will let you know more about the length of the procedure, the type of pain, and what they are doing. Some people find this very helpful. Different types of sedation are available, but you have to discuss them with your dentist first.
If you are still struggling with dental phobia after this, there are specialists that you can visit and talk to. They will be able to provide you with more help.