There are those who will admit that they have an aversion to dentists and dental clinics. This serious anxiety issue prevents millions of people from getting proper preventative care. This problem may cause more than lost teeth or dental health issues. Gum disease is a serious infection and it’s linked to illnesses such as stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
Luckily, many dental professionals know how to deal with anxious dental patients. Moreover, various treatments and methods are available to lessen pain and alleviate the feelings of uneasiness associated with dentists. Knowing how to stay calm at the dentist can help you take better care of your dental health.
What Is Dentophobia?
Dentophobia (odontophobia), or fear of dentists, is quite common among people of all ages. It’s sometimes related to iatrophobia (fear of doctors), as well as trypanophobia (fear of needles). It may be mild or severe, and can eventually cause serious health problems.
What Are Types of Dentophobia?
Dental anxiety can be divided into the aversion to various elements. The majority of those with this condition are affected by more than one element, while those with severe anxiety may be averse to the following factors at the same time.
It was only recently that completely painless dentistry was deemed possible. Even today, some dental procedures involve a minimal amount of pain. Many people are highly sensitive to mouth pain. The anxiety can stem from believing that the severity of pain may be too much to handle.
Just like doctors, dentists are usually mistakenly and irrationally cast as cold at best. People who had a negative personal encounter with a particular dental professional are more prone to this phobia.Dental anxiety can also occur if you have traumatic experiences with doctors in general. Anxiety can be triggered just by seeing a doctor, smelling odours associated with hospitals, or having negative feelings regarding people in powerful positions.
If you experience needle phobia, this could translate to anxiety over injections, even if it’s one used to numb the mouth.
- Sounds and Smells
People who have had negative experiences with dental professionals are afraid of the smells and sounds of a dentist’s office and the equipment, particularly the drill.
- Gagging or Numbness
Some individuals who have experienced difficulty breathing or choking can be apprehensive of having their mouths numbed. They might worry that they’ll be unable to swallow or breathe. Sometimes they’ll forget how to breathe while in the dentist’s chair.
Generally, a person experiences dentophobia because of traumatic incidents at the dental clinic. Those experiences may include painful procedures and complications from procedures. If you received care from a dental professional that you deemed unsympathetic or cold, then the incident could trigger anxiety.
The negative personal encounters aren’t the only factors in which dental anxiety can be triggered. It can also be brought by indirect means. A person can develop an aversion to the dentist after hearing about a friend’s negative experience and what they hear or see in the media. You must learn how to distract yourself at the dental clinic to avoid negative emotions. Keep reminding yourself that dental health professionals have your best interest at heart and there’s no reason for you to be scared to go to the dentist.
What Are the Consequences of Dental Anxiety?
Dental health varies greatly from person to person, whether it’s due to behaviour or genetics. Some individuals can last for years between dental appointments with minimal or no impact on their teeth and gums. However, others are prone to gum disease and decay, even though they brush and floss regularly. If you are one of the latter, then dentophobia can have serious consequences on your health.
Tooth decay gets worse over time. The small cavities that once could have been easily treated can lead to rotten and broken teeth, requiring costly and invasive reconstructive work and root canal treatments. This can make you less likely to seek dental treatment creating a vicious cycle. In some cases, dental problems may cause infection. If the infection is left untreated, it could cause it to spread, causing medical problems. The infected tissues also hurt, so pain is a common effect of dental anxiety.
In our modern society, we are expected to have clean and healthy teeth. If our teeth become rotten and broken because of neglect and decay, we might experience social stigma. It may make it difficult for someone to get a proper job. A person’s social life will also be affected which can lead to isolation, social anxiety, social withdrawal, and even depression.
How Do You Cope With Dental Anxiety?
The hurdles of dental anxiety may be multifold, but there are a few steps you can take to get your aversion under control. Learn how to relax in the dentist’s chair; start slow.
- Seek the help of a professional therapist
We understand that overcoming anxiety is an uphill battle — but you don’t have to do it alone. Consult a mental health professional before undergoing any dental treatment. Medications, cognitive behavioural therapy, and hypnosis can help you get your anxiety under control.
- Choose a dentist you’re comfortable with
Once your phobia becomes more manageable, you’ll be able to visit a dentist. However, you need to be extremely selective with your choice of a dental professional. You can also ask a friend or relative for a recommendation for a caring dental professional. Call prospective clinics and ask them if they have experience or specialize in working with people who suffer from dental anxiety.Choose a dentist who:
- Can make you feel at ease
- Gently explains what you will soon feel, and for how long
- Gives you the option to stop the procedure at any time you feel uncomfortable
- Allows you to take breaks as requested
- Asks you for permission to continue
- Book a consultation without an exam
You can also schedule an initial consultation without a full exam. When you call for an appointment, tell the receptionist that you have dental anxiety and that you’re not ready for a full exam. The initial appointment will let you establish rapport with the dentist and allow you to become familiar with their demeanour and manner.Remember, it’s vital to be open about why your aversion so they can better assist you. The right dentist will be sympathetic and accommodate your needs.
- Communicate with your dentist before or during an exam
Work with your dentist. Come up with a signal that you can use when you want to take a break. You also need to have a different signal to alert the dentist that you need more anesthetic. Even other factors such as how far back the chair is tilted and the order of work performed can be negotiated in advance.You can also ask your dentist about the available services, like sedation dentistry, that will allow you to sleep through the dental treatment.
Oral health is a vital aspect of a person’s overall well-being. Continued avoidance will only aggravate dental anxiety. As you go to more appointments, remember that you’re always in control.
If you’re looking for an accommodating dentist in the Burlington area, visit Lakeside Family Dental. We have experience in dealing with patients with dental anxiety. We offer excellent dental services and have a compassionate team that will help you find the best dental solution for you. Call us now at (905) 637-0801 or send us an email at [email protected]