Dental phobia has lots of different names, dental fear, odontophobia, dentist phobia and dental anxiety. Call it what you like but it is the fear of dentistry and receiving dental care.
For those of us who see the dentist twice a year for routine cleanings or the occasional cavity it is no big deal. However there are some people whose fear is so intense they will go years without seeing the dentist. These same folks will endure pain, gum infections, horrible breath and unsightly teeth to avoid a dental visit.
It is estimated that anywhere from 8 to 12 percent of the American population have this fear. Those percentages equate to millions of people who are afraid to go to the dentist.
Just what are they afraid of? The most prominent issue is pain. They may have had a bad experience in the past and are afraid it will happen again. Secondly, is afraid of being embarrassed. A lecture about how they have neglected their oral hygiene is humiliating. Thirdly, they don’t have any control over what is happening to them. Some don’t like the smell of a dentist’s office others just don’t want someone putting foreign objects in their mouth.
There are ways to avoid the anxiety and distress of a visit to the dentist. It begins with a conversation with the dental provider. Tell them about your fears and let them know you are anxious. Many doctors can prescribe a mild sedative that will relax you and not make you sleepy. Some use Nitrous Oxide or laughing gas to take the edge off of fear. Take a set of headphones and listen to music during the procedure. Some dental care professionals will have a television to watch and others will provide sunglasses so the bright lights won’t be so intimidating. Have some one in the room who isn’t afraid of the dentist to be there for moral support.
Finally, there are many dentist who use IV sedation. Not remembering anything that went on can have positive effects on dental procedures.
Start a conversation with a dentist about your fears and contact us. We can help.