A trip to the dentist isn’t exactly the most enjoyable experience. The idea of having bright lights shining in your face while someone pokes and prods your mouth isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. While many people don’t look forward to going to the dentist, they still go without hesitation because they know how important proper oral hygiene is. However, there are some people who put off going to the dentist altogether because they are downright scared of the experience. In fact, it is estimated that somewhere between 5% and 8% of people don’t get the routine dental care that they need because they are dental phobic.
What is dental phobia and why does it happen?
A phobia is defined as an extreme fear, and people who are dental phobic truly are afraid of the dentist. The very thought of going to the dentist and having their teeth examined is petrifying. The idea of hearing the whirring of the tools that are used and heaven-forbid if something is wrong and they need more than just a cleaning – a cavity that requires a filling, perhaps – can freeze them with fear.
Why do so many people fear going to the dentist? While the reasons vary for each person, some of the most common fears of the dentist stem from the following:
- Experiencing pain and discomfort
- Not being in control and the feelings of helplessness that are associated with it
- A bad experience in the past
People who suffer from dental phobia often avoid going to the dentist, and this may aide their fear, it certainly doesn’t do them any good in the long run. Avoidance can lead to serious oral health problems, including decay and infections, which could result in tooth loss – or worse – and in the end, necessitate extensive treatment.
Overcoming Dental Phobia
If you are someone who fears the dentist, you don’t have to be! Dentists are highly trained and now how to provide excellent care and they use the most advanced equipment to make your dental exam as comfortable and stress-free as possible.
If you are still feeling nervous about going to the dentist, here are some tips that can help to ease your fear:
- Talk to your dentist. When you schedule an appointment, let the receptionist know about your fear, or ask to speak to the dentist directly. Your dentist will be more than happy to sit down with you prior to your appointment and discuss ways that you can work together to put your fear at ease. This might include taking a tour of the office, discussing exactly what will happen and seeing the equipment before your exam and cleaning. Most dentists are well aware of these fears and in fact some dentists cater specifically for nervous patients.
- Take it slow. Instead of jumping right in to your exam and cleaning, take it slow. Perhaps you may be able to sit in the chair first and take some time to acclimate yourself before your dentist proceeds.
- Bring music. Create a playlist of calming music and pop in your ear buds while your mouth is being examined and cleaned.
No matter how bad your fear may be, your dentist will work with you to ensure your appointment goes as smoothly and successfully as possible. Remember: Proper oral health is vital to your overall health and well-being.