Oral health is widely regarded as one of the most important aspects of our overall health.
However, perhaps just as prevalent is the fear of the dentist.
This common fear can stem from a number of emotions related to worries over your oral health, as well as potential bad experiences you may have had at the dentist during your youth.
Given the importance of oral care to your overall health, a fear of the dentist shouldn’t hold you back from regular checkups and cleanings.
Fear or phobia
Dentophobia can present such a severe fear that you avoid the dentist altogether. Even the mere mention or thought of the dentist may cause anxiety. Nightmares and panic attacks may also occur.
A fear of the dentist is usually caused by negative past experiences. You may have been afraid of the dentist as a child, and these feelings stuck with you as you grew up.
Some people are also afraid of the noises of the tools dentists and dental hygienists use for teeth cleaning and exams, so thinking about these could bring about some fears, too.
By definition, a phobia is an extreme fear. This might also be tied to a negative experience in the past. Perhaps you experienced pain, discomfort, or a general lack of empathy at a dentist office, and this has created a significant aversion to seeing another dentist in the future.
Exposure therapy, a type of psychotherapy, is among the most effective solutions for dentophobia because it involves seeing the dentist on a more gradual basis. You might start by making visits to the dentist’s office without actually sitting down for an exam. Then, you can gradually build on your visits with partial exams, X-rays, and cleanings until you’re comfortable to take on a full appointment.
Medications won’t treat dentophobia by themselves. However, certain types of antianxiety medications may alleviate symptoms as you’re working through exposure therapy. These can also ease some of the more physical symptoms of your phobia, such as high blood pressure.
Tips to stay calm
Whether you’re ready to face your fear full-on or you’re getting ready for exposure therapy to gradually see the dentist, the following tips can help you stay calm during your appointment:
• See the dentist at a less busy time of day, such as the morning hours. There will be fewer people, but also fewer tools making noises that could trigger your anxiety. Also, the later you see your dentist, the more time your anxieties will build up in anticipation.
• Bring noise-canceling headphones or ear buds with music to help you relax.
• Ask a friend or a loved one to accompany you during your appointment.
• Practice deep breathing and other meditation techniques to calm your nerves.
How to find the right dentist for you
Choosing your dentist is an important decision, at Empower Your Smile we have people with phobia on a daily basis, our technique to help these patients is to start by understanding the reason for the phobia, if it is due to a childhood trauma, bad experiences, social media.... Once we determine the cause we will look for the best way to start the treatment, always with patience and trying to create a relationship of trust, showing the office, our work team, the procedures to be performed and giving our patients a break when they wish.
Do not hesitate and come visit us at Empower Your Smile, remember that it is better to prevent with regular cleaning and visits to your dentist, rather than having to visit for a dental emergency.