Oral health is one of the most important aspects of human health, yet fear of the dentist is among the most prevalent mental health disorders among people around the world.
In the United States of America, for example, about 20% of citizens suffer from this type of phobia, according to the WebMD website.
This fear stems from a number of disturbing feelings related to oral health, as well as bad experiences you may have had at the dentist during your life.
But for some, those fears can turn into a severe phobia, called dentophobia.
Dentophobia, like other phobias, is defined as an intense and irrational fear of things, situations, or people related to oral medicine and dentistry.
But given the importance of oral care to maintain your overall health, this phobia should not prevent you from having the recommended regular oral examinations every 6 months.
The most common symptoms of dentophobia
Dentophobia is simply a state of chronic anxiety that causes the patient to panic when exposed to anything related to the teeth.
It is estimated that 2.7% of men and 4.6% of women worldwide suffer from it, according to a study published by the European Journal of Dentistry in 2013.
According to mental health website Very Well Mind, people with dental phobia realize that their fear is irrational, yet they are still unable to do anything about it.
People with this phobia show traditional fear-avoidance behavior, meaning that they will do everything in their power to avoid visiting the dentist, no matter how worsening their dental condition and their gum and mouth problems.
Therefore, a person with dental phobia usually goes to the specialist doctor urgently, only after the development of his injury and suffering from severe and unbearable pain.
Therefore, illness anxiety requires psychological counseling in some cases due to its severity and the seriousness of its impact on the patient’s life.
Other signs of dental phobia include:
- Difficulty sleeping the night before a dental exam.
- Feelings of dread while in the dental clinic waiting room.
- Crying and feeling organically ill when thinking about visiting the dentist.
- Dread at the thought of or when you put anything in your mouth during therapy sessions.
- Difficulty breathing and a feeling of suffocation.
- Excessive dental care for fear of visiting the doctor.
Causes of dental phobia:
fear of pain, It is a very common reason to avoid the dentist, and this fear usually stems from a previous painful or frightening experience for the person, or because of the experiences of others around you.
Fear of injection: Many people are very afraid of needles, especially injecting anesthetics into the mouth. In addition to this fear, others fear that the anesthesia will not take effect immediately or that the dose is not sufficient to relieve any pain during the session.
Fear of side effects of anesthesia: Some people fear the possible side effects of anesthesia, such as dizziness, feeling faint or nauseated, as well as the feeling of numbness in the lips and swelling of the mouth.
Feeling helpless and out of control: It’s common for people to feel this when thinking about a situation: sitting in that awful dental chair with your mouth wide open, not being able to see what’s happening to you.
Embarrassment and loss of personal space: Many people feel uncomfortable with the physical proximity of the dentist or oral hygienist to their face, and others may feel ashamed of the appearance of their teeth or potential mouth odors.
Dealing with the problem starts from recognizing the causes. If the dental phobia is severe and hinders the person’s ability to receive the necessary care and treatment, it is recommended to consult a mental health professional to work on the problem of anxiety and excessive fear.
Once the problem is understood and the degree of phobia reaches a manageable level, individual work on it can visit the dentist and work to calm your fears through meditation and promote psychological calm and a sense of immediate safety in the clinic.
Therefore, it is possible to schedule an initial consultation with your dentist to ease your anxiety about receiving dental treatment, without taking a test or initiating any treatment, according to the HealthLine website.
When you call for an appointment, explain to the doctor that you suffer from dentophobia, and you are not ready to book a full session. This initial appointment will allow you to develop a relationship with the dentist and get used to his technique.
Options for alleviating dentophobia
Among the options to alleviate the problem, when you attend your treatment, you can agree with the dentist on a specific signal that you can use when you need a break, and a different signal to tell the doctor that you need more anesthesia.
Even some practical matters – such as how far the chair leans back and spells of direct action in your mouth during the session – can be discussed in advance to reduce the severity of the sufferer’s dentophobia.
Sometimes people bring a portable music player with special headphones in order to disrupt the disturbing sounds of dental drilling, and watching a screen or something in the doctor’s office while he is doing his work in your mouth may be the most appropriate distraction to motivate you to forget that you are undergoing the treatment session.
But in some severe cases, you can talk to the dentist about providing sedatives that allow the person with a phobia to sleep during dental treatment sessions until the problem is treated.