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Dentophobia: Do You Fear Going to the Dentist?
February 14, 2023  |  Dental Health

Dentophobia: Do You Fear Going to the Dentist?

What Is Dentophobia?

Dentophobia is a fear of going to the dentist. Dentophobia usually stems from a traumatic experience with dental treatment, such as a particularly painful extraction or filling. Dentophobia is usually treated in therapy using techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which aims to decrease anxiety concerning dental work.

Dentists can also provide temporary relief through sedatives and general anesthesia, which are often only necessary for emergency oral surgeries or extractions due to decay or injury. There are dentists for nervous patients, so in case someone has dentophobia, dentists in Didsbury will be able to help you in the best possible ways. 

What Does a Person with Dentophobia Fear?

Someone with dentophobia may be afraid of

1) Anesthetics - The fear of general or local anesthesia is a major cause of dentophobia.

2) Pain - If a person has had a bad experience when being treated by a dentist, then he or she may be afraid that it will happen like that again. In such cases, the gentle team and use of anesthetics in dentistry in Didsbury would be the most appropriate option.

3) Blood - The sight of blood might also be a cause of dentophobia for some.

4) Dentists - For some people, it is the fear of dentists themselves and the fact they have to go see one that causes their fear. This can lead to panic when going to the dentist.

5) Choking - Being afraid of choking can also cause dentophobia.

6) Needles - For some dentophobia sufferers, a fear of needles means that they are too frightened to even receive injections.

7) Noise - The sound of the drill is probably the most frightening aspect of going to the dentist for some people.

8) Smells - Dentists have to use various chemicals and bonding agents to repair their teeth, and many people are very self-conscious about their breath, which leads them to be afraid of the dentist finding it out, making them afraid to visit the dentist.

What Are the Causes of Dentophobia?

Possible causes of dentophobia include - 

1) Family history - Having a family member who suffers from dentophobia may be a major factor.

2) Traumatic experiences - Going to the dentist naturally scares some people, especially if they have had an unpleasant experience. Many people develop this phobia as a result of their personal experiences with dental treatment.

3) Associations - Fear can be caused by associations that are derived from something you have seen or read, such as being bitten or scratched by an animal in a pet store. Fears might also come from TV or movies and could include things such as being hunted down by aliens in an alien invasion movie or being put into an electric chair for crimes you didn't commit in a horror movie.

4) Feeling embarrassed - If a patient is afraid that they will be embarrassed by the dentist's examination, then they might be more inclined to have anxiety associated with dental treatment.

5) Fear of pain - It is not surprising that people with dentophobia might fear visits to the dentist. The treatment itself may make them uncomfortable, for example, if it requires drilling into their teeth or applying painful but necessary chemical treatments.

6) Feeling helpless - Feeling like you are not in control of what happens next can be frightening. Talk to your dentist about coming up with a signal that you need a break from treatment and be sure to discuss the treatment before it is provided.

7) Past negative experiences - If you have had negative experiences with the dentist, then it may make you fear all dental treatments

Dentophobia triggers include:

  • Being inside a dental office.

  • Hearing or seeing dental instruments.

  • Sitting in a dentist’s chair.

  • Seeing a dentist or dental hygienist.

  • Thinking about a dental visit.

What are the Symptoms of Dentophobia?

Dentophobia symptoms can range from mild to extreme. They include:

  • Chills

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness

  • Excessive sweating

  • Heart palpitations

  • Nausea

  • Shortness of breath

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Upset stomach or indigestion

  • Crying when thinking about visiting a dentist

  • Having insomnia before a dental appointment

How can I find out if my child has dentophobia?

When a child regularly exhibits signs of stress or fear when going to the dentist, parents should take note. 

Dentophobia is frequently treated in therapy with techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which aims to reduce anxiety about future dental visits. Sedatives and general anaesthesia, which are often only required for emergency oral surgeries or extractions due to decay or injury, can also provide temporary relief. It is essential to find a dentist who you trust and can support you throughout your care.

What Are Dentophobia Treatments?

Exposure therapy is one of the main treatments for the fear of dentists. During exposure therapy, you:

1) Learn breathing and muscle relaxation techniques to use before and during your appointment - Relaxation before visiting a dentist ensures that you don't get too nervous or tense. You may be able to achieve this by thinking of running through the steps of your treatment and the procedure itself in your head, or by taking deep breaths and making sure that you aren't holding your breath while you are waiting for the dentist. 

2) View pictures or videos of people visiting the dentist - Exposure therapy for dental fear often involves watching a video before you go to the dentist so you can learn to relax. 

3) Gradually progress to visiting a dentist’s office without getting treatment - This can be done by sitting in the waiting room, walking through the office, and looking at the equipment, all without actually seeing the dentist. Patients might also ask to watch another person being treated without having treatment themselves.

4) Talk to your dentist about your fear so they can help you - Dentists can talk to you about what treatment you are going to have so that you know what will be done in advance. They can also give you information about sedatives, which can help reduce any discomfort or pain associated with your treatment.

Other techniques to overcome dentophobia include:

1) Acupuncture - Acupuncture is a form of treatment that aims to relax the body and reduce pain. The patient may be asked to lie down and have a practitioner (osteopath, acupuncturist, or chiropractor) insert needles into specific areas of the body.

2) Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) - This form of treatment aims to help you cope with your anxiety. During CBT, you may be asked to keep a diary that lists all of the things that cause you anxiety and rate them on a scale from 1-10. You will then be asked to work towards overcoming these fears by first thinking about what it is that is causing you discomfort and then working through the steps to overcome that fear.

3) Distraction - Some patients find that being distracted from their fear can help them overcome it. For example, listening to a book on tape while in the dentist’s office can make the experience more comfortable.

4) Guided imagery - During guided imagery, the patient is given a series of suggestions about how to relax. For example, the patient might be asked to imagine a beach or a waterfall, or another place that brings them comfort and relaxation.

5) Hypnosis - This is where an individual is guided into a relaxed state using techniques such as meditation, touch, and vocal cues so that they can listen to suggestions that help them overcome their fear of going to the dentist.

6) Relaxation techniques - Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and biofeedback can be used for patients with dental phobias.

7) Sedation - Sedation is often used for dental treatment via tablet Some patients may need more than one sedation dosage when visiting the dentist, while others might only need one. Sedation works best at removing anxiety associated with painful treatments, such as having an implant put in or having a tooth removed.

How can I best learn to cope with dentophobia during a dental visit?

Before your dental appointment, you may find that it helps to:

  • Try your best to relax - As mentioned earlier, trying to relax is one of the main ways of coping with dentophobia. For some patients who are nervous about going to the dentist, relaxation techniques or deep breathing can really help. You can practice deep breathing or even meditate before your appointment in order to make yourself feel more relaxed. 

  • Practice progressive muscle relaxation - In this technique, you are told to start with your toes and work your way up your body to the top of your head, and then down again. While you are doing this, concentrate on each muscle area and try to relax it. 

  • Go with a friend - If you have a friend or family member with you, this can make your appointment less stressful.

Why choose Didsbury Smiles Dental for nervous and dentophobia patients?

We believe that all of our patients should be treated with respect and care. We treat patients regardless of age, gender, or social standing. People who are scared or nervous about visiting the dentist can often feel uncomfortable. Our dentists and staff aim to make you feel as comfortable as possible when you are here with us at our Didsbury practice.

We offer a free initial consultation with one of our dentists who will talk to you about your history, discuss any problems that you are having with your teeth and gums, and then examine your mouth. During this consultation, we will also assess how long it may take to complete the right treatment plan.

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