A dental phobia is fear of a dentist and to dental procedures. Dental anxiety and phobia are extremely common. It has been estimated that 9% to 15% of people avoid seeing the dentist because of anxiety and fear. People often use the words "anxiety" and "phobia" to mean the same thing, but they are different.
"It's going to hurt". It's a natural thought that goes through everyone's mind, right from from kids to the elderly people.
Dental phobia is a more serious condition. It's an intense fear or dread. People with dental phobia aren't merely anxious. They are terrified or panic stricken. People with dental phobia have a higher risk of gum disease and early tooth loss.
Dental phobia can be caused by:
- Observation of other people attending complex dental treatments
- Previous bad experience with dental treatment
- Fear of pain and injections
Tips To Overcome Dental Phobia:
1. Communication skills, Rapport and Trust building: It is important for dental practitioners to have a positive behaviour, attitude and communicative stance. Dental practitioners should establish a direct approach by communicating with the patient in a friendly, calm and non-judgmental manner, using appropriate vocabulary and avoiding negative phases.
Positive eye-contact, friendly facial expressions and positive gestures are essential to achieve an empathetic relationship between the patient and dental practitioner.
2. Imagination: Try distracting yourself. Especially think of anything that will help you relax.
3. Education: Sometimes fear of unknown can be a cause to a fear of dentist. Speak with your dentist about what to expect and what is going to be done on your dental visit.
4. Relaxation: Relaxation exercises include controlled breathing. This will help relax your muscles and slow your heartbeat.
5. Distraction - Distraction technique includes listening to music, fiddling with a stress ball, counting to yourself.
5. Conscious Sedation : Sedatives helps the patient to relax and tolerate unpleasant procedures.
Avoiding the dentist may have emotional costs as well. Discolored or damaged teeth can make people self-conscious and insecure. They may smile less or keep their mouths partly closed when they speak. Some people can become so embarrassed about how their teeth look that their personal and professional lives begin to suffer. There is often a serious loss of self-esteem.
Let your dentist know about your fears. You are not alone, and you should not be embarrassed to discuss this phobia with your dentist. Your dentist will help you overcome with this fear so you can get the dental treatment at the earlier stage.