Dental anxiety and dental phobia are two mutually exclusive but prominent problems that a lot of people face on a regular basis. There’s no doubt that no one actually enjoys going to the dentist, whether it’s for a routine cleaning, a checkup, or a root canal. However, people who are afflicted with severe dental anxiety or phobia have a much harder time than most when it comes to coping with their fears. It might seem completely irrational to people who don’t experience dental anxiety, but for people who do suffer from it, the fears and anxieties associated with dental visits seem almost insurmountable. It takes a professional, experienced dentist to aptly treat anxious and fearful patients in a compassionate and understanding manner.
What Is Dental Anxiety and Phobia?
As mentioned, dental anxiety and dental phobia are two distinct conditions that affect people to varying degrees. Anxious patients might feel very uncomfortable or nervous when visiting the dentist, but for the most part, they usually find a way to power through their apprehension and go through with the visit. Dental phobia, on the other hand, is an actual fear of the dentist and it usually prevents patients from ever visiting the dentist. This can lead to potentially severe oral health problems that can eventually spread to other parts of the body. Both conditions stem from underlying mental or emotional problems that are simply being manifested through external fears. Every dentist has a different way of helping their patients manage their trepidation, and some methods are more effective than others. If a patient suffers from extreme dental phobia, then their dentist might use anxiety medication to try to calm their jangled nerves at the beginning of the appointment.
Causes of Dental Fear
There are many reasons why people develop extreme dental phobia or anxiety. These reasons are often linked to other external or internal issues in the patient’s life. Understanding the root cause of dental phobia and anxiety can aid in the process of overcoming dental fear. Here are a few reasons people are afraid of visiting the dentist.
Fear of Pain
Everyone has a different tolerance for pain. Given the negative and often inaccurate portrayals of modern-day dentistry, it’s not surprising that a lot of people are still under the misconception that all dental procedures involve a great deal of pain. The fact is that these procedures have evolved throughout the decades and nowadays, there are countless medications, anesthetics, and freezing agents that prevent patients from feeling any pain or enable them to feel minimal amounts of pain.
Unpleasant Personal Experiences
All it takes is one bad experience with a dentist or any other health-care professional, for that matter, to permanently taint a patient’s perception of the procedure that was done or even the overall profession. It’s important for patients to understand, however, that avoiding the dentist because of one unpleasant personal experience can actually cause more harm than good.
Feeling Embarrassed About Oral Health
We’re always told to brush our teeth or rinse out our mouths before visiting the dentist, which seems a little counterproductive considering they’re going to clean inside our mouth anyway. A lot of people do this because having someone peering into every small crevice of their mouth about an inch away from their face makes them feel extremely nervous. Patients often feel as though their dentist is judging them for having crooked teeth, halitosis, swollen gums, a protruding jawline, etc. The reality is that your dentist is simply trying to get a good look at what’s going on inside your mouth so they can diagnose and treat any problems.
Fear of Relinquishing Control
Another valid fear for a lot of people when visiting the dentist is the fear of losing control over what happens to them. Relinquishing control of your body to another person can be intimidating, and that’s exactly what you’re forced to do every time you lie down in that dentist’s chair. If the dentist makes you feel ill at ease for whatever reason, then this can cause more anxiety.
Pre-Existing Anxiety Disorders
Unsurprisingly, a lot of dental phobia and fears stem from pre-existing emotional or anxiety disorders such as depression, social anxiety, fear of intimacy, etc. All of these can contribute to severe dental phobia. It’s imperative that people who suffer from these types of conditions find a dentist who specializes in dealing with anxiety patients.
Tips for Overcoming Dental Fear
Avoiding the dentist due to debilitating fear or anxiety can ultimately lead to a host of other, more serious health conditions, which is why this issue should be dealt with as promptly as possible. There are a few valuable dentist anxiety tips that you might find helpful.
Talk to your dentist about your fears.
Always communicate how you’re feeling to your dentist. Knowing what you’re experiencing will help them find more viable and suitable treatment options for you.
Pinpoint the root cause of your fears and anxiety.
You should also make a point of talking to a health-care professional about your dental fear and anxiety so that they can refer you to a mental-health specialist.
Remember that it’s all mind over matter.
Speaking to a mental-health specialist will help you put things into perspective, and it might make you realize that your fear is all mind over matter. They might even recommend a few effective dental fear treatment options.
Establish signals with your dentist prior to treatment.
Sometimes dentists will warn you if there will be any discomfort or pain during a procedure, and they’ll ask you to use hand signals if the pain gets too intense. This is a good way to communicate with your dentist without having to speak and it also helps build trust.
Try various relaxation methods beforehand.
Sometimes it helps to try different relaxation methods such as yoga, deep-breathing exercises, reading a book, etc. This can help take your mind off of the dental procedure that’s about to take place and it can reduce stress and anxiety. Your dentist can also give you some excellent pointers on how to stay calm during oral surgery.
Visit Your Local Dentist in Etobicoke
If you’re scared of the dentist but need treatment, then you should schedule an appointment immediately with a reputable and compassionate dentist. At Princeview Dental Group, we’re committed to ensuring the health, safety, comfort, and satisfaction of all of our patients. We’ll do everything in our power to make sure that you feel completely at ease from the moment you step through our front door to the moment you leave. To schedule an appointment with our dentist, contact us.