WHAT IS DENTOPHOBIA AND HOW TO OVERCOME
Dentophobia (fear of dentists) is a type of phobia that can be seen in every age group. It is the phobia of dentistry in general, being on the dental chair and/or dental exam. Dentophobia can be severe or mild and may result in some bad consequences. Keeping on avoiding a simple dental exam can cause anxiety and concern and this can also cause people to be afraid of every kind of dental health treatments. When the anxiety reaches a level where it becomes a factor that affects one’s decisions on their own health issues, they may become dentophobic.
Some factors can trigger this phobia and people may experience one or many of these phobias at the same time. Most of the triggering factors can be found in a dentist’s office. Smell of dental treatment tools, seeing dental treatment tools and machines in the dentist’s office can be counted examples to these. Patient’s previous dental exam experiences may be the reason behind this. Especially if these experiences were not pleasant and left a strong and negative impact on patient’s mind, the fear of dentist becomes stronger.
What Causes Dentophobia?
There are many terms to categorize types of Dentophobia. Fear of teeth, anxiety against dentists, fear of dentists, phobia of dentists, odontophobia or Dentophobia are among these words. They all address the same thing: Fear of visiting a dentist’s office to get the dental treatment needed. In most of the cases, the reason behind it is the patient’s previous traumatic dental exam/treatment experiences that did not end well. These experiences include the complications that arise from the treatment applied and painful procedures. A bad experience with a dentist or the way how dentists are seen among people can also be a reason.
Having unpleasant personal experiences is not the only way to become dentophobic. Indirect yet fearful experiences can trigger this fear as well. Hearing another patient’s traumatic experiences is another way to become afraid of dentists and dental treatments. Since people are tend to believe more what they see and read on social media, coming across with such can make people fear dentists, too. And unfortunately all the movies that are evolved around this topic may help people develop Dentophobia.
Another thing to avoid doing is to scare kids by telling them you are going to take them to the dentist’s, if they do not behave. This leaves a negative impact on kids’ minds and may be the reason behind them developing dentophobia.
In some cases, there is nothing to do with dentists, either. Having bad experiences and memories with other doctors is also a reason for dentophobia. Some people can be taken with fear immediately when they see a doctor, when they are in a hospital, when they smell medications and drugs, or when they are in existence with someone whom they think they have power on them.
Is There Any Treatment for Dentophobia?
If you think the level of your dentophobia is increasing and has already started to become severe and a factor that affects your decisions, it is the best thing to do to consult a professional before your dental treatments. Cognitive behavioral therapy, medications and hypnosis may be helpful for you to take your fear under control.
When your dentophobia is at a controllable level, it is safe to visit your dentist. Besides this, your dentist choice plays an important role as well. Today’s dentists are very different than they used to be. Each dentist has their own techniques and methods to calm down the patients who are afraid of dentists and dental treatments. Having your treatment by a dentist who understands you and acts accordingly will help you feel yourself at ease before, during and after your treatment.
Relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and muscle relaxation can be used as an element to decrease the level of fear and these may be helpful for the patient feel themselves comfortable on the dental chair. Psychologists use systematic desensitization as a technique to decrease the level of anxiety and fears of patients. With the help of this method, patient is exposed to the object of their fear gradually until they are able to fight it.
Another treatment for dentophobia is drug use. The type of medications that are needed to be taken by the patient varies from mild tranquillers to general anesthesia. In some cases, some medications such as Valium and Xanax are given to patients before their treatment; however these medications need to be prescribed. Patients can have their dental treatment and dental care without being affected by their fear against dentists with the help of these methods mentioned. This also allows patients to be awake and responsive to their dentists during the procedure.
One of the most preferred method to help patients with dentophobia is to administer conscious sedation so that patients will be unconscious but their reactions will be normal. Patients can have a comfortable treatment and do not remember what happened during their procedure when conscious sedation is administered by a professional. But it is the dentist who will decide whether you are a good candidate for conscious sedation.
There are other methods a patient can apply by himself/herself. For example; doing a research into dentists with whom they can feel themselves comfortable will help them decrease their level of anxiety. Especially when a patient trusts their dentist of choice, they will feel more safe and comfortable on the way to the dentist’s. A patient can ask for a consultation before their treatment. Bringing a comforting object such as stress balls to their appointment can also be helpful. You can feel more comfortable and less anxious by listening to relaxing music or reading your favorite book. Going to your appointment with a loved one, like a friend or a family member, is another way to decrease the level of anxiety. Or it is also a good to do meditation and apply relaxation methods before your appointment.