Dental Anxiety and Fear of Dentists Questions and Answers
If you have a fear of going to the dentist or anxiety about dental appointments, read our Q and A page below. Call our office to speak with one of our specialists or request an appointment online. We serve patients from Dallas TX, Fort Worth TX, Highland Park TX, Irving TX, Duncanville TX, Forest Hill TX, and Benbrook TX.
Dental anxiety is an irrational fear of going to the dentist. With all the drills, fillings and sharp objects, it is easy to understand why someone might have these anxieties. However, if you have spent any amount of time in a dentist’s office, you will realize that these fears are misplaced and that there is much healing and help that happens in a dentist’s office.
What is the fear of a dentist called?
Oral health is one of the most important aspects of our overall wellbeing. So the fear of the dentists can have serious implications. This common fear can stem from potential bad experiences you may have had at the dentist when you were younger as well as a number of emotions related to worries over your oral health.
Such a fear is known as dentophobia (and also odontophobia). Like other phobias, this is defined as an extreme or irrational fear to objects, situations, or people — in this case, the extreme fear of going to the dentist. With the importance that oral care has on your overall health, a fear of the dentist should be addressed to avoid missing regular checkups and cleanings. However, for some people, it is not as simple to just go to the dentist.
What causes dental phobia?
Dental anxiety can be caused by:
- a traumatic dental experience or other healthcare experience
- previous trauma to the head and neck
- other traumatic experiences, including abuse
- generalized anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder
- the idea that the mouth is a personal area and entering the mouth is an invasion of personal space
- fear of loss of control
- trust issues
- anxiety associated with other conditions such as claustrophobia, agoraphobia or obsessive compulsive disorder
How common is dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety, or dental fear, is estimated to affect approximately 13% to 24% of people around the world, with about a third of those suffering from extreme dental fear. In terms of an individual’s oral health, this anxiety can have serious repercussions, and significantly contributes to poor dental attendance. This is known as dental avoidance and can lead to the necessity for specialist dental care and poor oral health. It is important for dental practitioners to understand the concepts and aetiology of dental fear, dental anxiety and/or dental phobia as dental fear affects oral health status, dental attendance and the quality of life.
How can I overcome dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety is a fairly common condition affecting millions of people around the world. If you have anxieties about visiting the dentist, then you may have odontophobia. To overcome your fear of dentists, follow these steps:
- Brush up on good dentists in your area
- Be honest about your fears
- Get accustomed to the tools
- Be sure that you are in control
- Take breaks
- Bring someone with you
- Take precautions to reduce discomfort
- Distract yourself
- Try techniques for relaxation
- Pay attention to your dentist’s demeanor
Remember that slow dental work is better than none at all and that it may take you several weeks or months to complete the dental work you need. This is OK. Don’t let this stop you from starting. Take as much time as you need while you work toward overcoming your fear. Doing a little bit at a time in order to keep your fears at bay is better than doing nothing at all and will work towards minimizing your fears.
The best tip of all for overcoming dental anxiety: Take good care of your teeth. While you might expect those with dental anxiety to work hard to protect their teeth to avoid going to the dentist at all, sometimes that is simply not the case. It’s likely that your next dental visit won’t be nearly as scary if you brush well, eat right and floss daily.
If you or someone you know has fears about visiting the dentist, you are not alone. The kind and compassionate professionals at Beyond Smiles are experienced in helping people who have dental anxieties and can help you overcome your fears. For more information on how you can overcome dental anxiety, call our office and get in touch with a member of our specialist team. To book an appointment to see with one of our dental specialists, visit our website or speak with us over the phone today. We serve patients from Fort Worth TX, Dallas TX, Cockrell Hill TX, Mesquite TX, Highland Park TX, Forest Hill TX, Saginaw TX, and White Settlement TX.
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