What is Dental Phobia?
Dental phobia, or odontophobia, is an anxiety disorder that can cause extreme distress or avoidance in a dental situation. People with dental phobia may have excessive fears of visiting a dentist. This fear can be triggered by various emotions linked to worries over oral health and possible previous bad experiences with dentistry.
How Common Is Dental Phobia?
Statistically, dental phobia affects approximately 7 to 13 percent of the population of western countries. In the United States alone, 36 percent of people fear going to the dentist, with 12 percent having extreme phobias. Consequently, dental phobia is more common in women than in men.
However, the importance of oral health can’t be stressed enough. Your dental health contributes greatly to your overall health, and a fear of the dentist shouldn’t prevent you from going for regular checkups and treatments.
The Symptoms of Dental Phobia
Dental phobia symptoms vary from person to person and can range from mild to severe. The most common ones are:
- Trembling or shaking
- Heart palpitation
- Feeling anxiety
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Upset stomach
- Excessive sweating
- Shortness of breath
What are the Causes of this Phobia?
Dental phobia is often caused by bad or traumatic past experiences. You are also likely to have dental fear if someone in your family suffers from an anxiety disorder. Someone with this fear cannot check into the dentist’s office without suffering from one or more dental phobia symptoms. Dental phobia reactions can also be triggered by the sight, generic smells, or sounds of dental work. Specifically, people with dental fear may be afraid of dentists, needles, pain, choking, dental drills, or fear of being embarrassed.
Dental Phobia Treatment
Even if you have a dental phobia, visiting a dentist is crucial to ensure your oral health is maintained. The kind of treatment you get will depend on your fear. For example, mild dental phobia is better treated by going to the dentist rather than avoiding it.
Extreme dental phobias may require a combination of medications and therapies, including the following.
Medication: Some types of medications may help reduce dental phobia symptoms. However, it should be noted that medications won’t treat this fear by themselves. They work best when combined with other treatments like therapy.
Exposure therapy: This is one of the most effective treatments for dental phobia. The treatment involves visiting the dentist regularly without booking any exam. Then slowly build on your visits with a few cleanings, exams, and X-rays until you’re ready for an actual appointment.
In addition, you can practice some relation techniques to ensure you remain calm throughout your appointment. Here are some tips:
- Practice deep breathing and muscle relaxation
- Bring noise-canceling headphones
- Ask someone you trust to accompany you during your appointment
- Let your dentist know about your fear
Dental phobia is a serious problem that can make you delay or avoid your appointments. This only makes the situation even worse, resulting in poor dental health. Visit Life Dental Group and let us know about your fears so we can find reasonable accommodations.