Personally, I love going to the dentist. I’ve had (mostly) positive experiences, and I love how I feel coming out of the dentist’s office. But some of my friends dread the dentist, even though they know how important it is. So for all of you who hate going to the dentist, today’s guest post by Richard is for you!
Most of us are familiar with the feeling of anxiety associated with going to the dentist, but attending regular dental appointments is extremely important and missing them can put your dental, and general, health at risk.
What causes dental fear?
Dental fear is really common. But what causes it and why do so many of us feel nervous about going to the dentist? There are many possible causes of dental fear, including:
- Negative experiences in the past
- Fear of dentists that is associated with media coverage or others’ stories
- Fear of pain
- Fear of needles
- Embarrassment about your dental health
- Fear of the unknown
- Fear of the dental drill
- Sensitive gag reflex
In many cases, negative experiences during childhood shape our view of things in adulthood, and adult patients who came across an unsympathetic dentist when they were younger or suffered a painful procedure are likely to treat trips to the dentist with trepidation. Other cases of dental fear are linked to specific fears—fears of needles, injections and the dental drill are all common—while some people dread sitting in the dental chair because they struggle to cope with the loss of control and have a fear of the unknown.
Patients who suffer from dental fear often find that their fears get worse the longer they leave going to the dentist. Many feel worried that they will have something wrong with their teeth, which requires further visits to the dentist, while others are embarrassed and even ashamed at the state of their teeth. Often, the longer you leave it the worse the anxiety, which is why dentists encourage nervous patients to seek help as early as possible.
What are the symptoms?
Anxiety and dental phobia affect people in different ways and to different extremes, but common signs can include:
- Feeling sick
- A feeling of dread
- Racing heartbeat
- Sweating and feeling clammy
- Having ‘butterflies’
- Feeling worried and helpless
What can be done?
Dental fear is a common problem, but it is important to go to the dentist on a regular basis and you must try to overcome your fears. If you avoid going to the dentist you are likely to develop dental health problems that will only make you feel more nervous about going to the dentist.
Most dentists are helpful and understanding when it comes to treating phobic patients. If you are feeling anxious about a trip to the dentist, call ahead and ask to meet with your dentist to discuss your worries. It is important to talk to your dentist so that they can understand what you are nervous about. They will often adapt their approach to help you feel more comfortable, but they cannot help you if they do not know you have dental fear.
Some people find techniques such as hypnotherapy, stress and anxiety management and breathing exercises helpful. While others have found that treatments designed to reduce anxiety in the dental chair are beneficial; popular treatments include sedation and painless injections.
In severe cases, dental phobia can be so debilitating that it puts your health at risk. However, there are things that can be done to ease anxiety and prevent fear in the dental chair and once you have taken steps to overcome your fear and your teeth and gums are in good health, you will feel much better.
About the Author
Richard is a freelance writer who attends regular dental appointments and makes it his mission to help dental phobia patients get the treatment they deserve. He writes at http://www.dentalimplant.co.uk which is a site dedicated to helping patients understand their options if they have missing teeth.
Do you have any dental phobias? How have you overcome them?