A painful dental experience can make you develop anxiety towards dentists. However, some patients develop an extreme fear of the dentist or dentophobia that prevents them from receiving proper dental care.
In this post, we will share about dentophobia and its symptoms. We will also share how you can break free from its limiting effects on your mind and body.
What is dentophobia?
Dental phobia or dentophobia is an anxiety disorder involving extreme fear of anything related to dentists. It is a common phenomenon that affects about 13% to 24% of Americans. Dentophobia can start from mild symptoms like feeling sick before a dental appointment. In worst cases, it can lead to extreme panic attacks that will require the help of a psychologist.
Symptoms that you have a dentophobia
One of the best ways to address your dental fear is to identify whether you have mild dental anxiety or dentophobia. Here are the symptoms of dentophobia:
- Having panic attacks, crying, or feeling nauseous at the idea of going to the dentist or seeing anything related to dentistry like the sound of a drill, the sight of a dental chair, or the smell of dental solutions.
- Feeling sick a day before the dental appointment.
- Only considers the idea of going to the dentist when feeling extreme pain.
- Extreme distress about the thought of losing control over your mouth with local anesthetics, pain during treatments, lack of personal space, or tools inside your mouth.
- Find it hard to sleep or focus before a dental appointment.
Causes of dentophobia
Several factors can make a patient develop dentophobia. The common causes are as follows:
- A previous painful experience with a dentist
- Horror stories about dental experiences from other people
- Fear of injections
- The thought of being helpless when injected with a numbing cream or local anesthetic
- Invasion of personal space due to the proximity of the dentist to your face or mouth
How does COVID-19 intensify dentophobia?
SARS-COV 2 or COVID-19 disease is a contagious viral respiratory infection that transmits through droplets of saliva from an infected person. Since COVID spread through the droplets from saliva, patients with dentophobia develop another fear of getting infected with the COVID during their dental treatment.
How to conquer your fear of the dentist
Dental care is essential in maintaining your oral health. Breaking free from the chains of dentophobia can be challenging. By taking small steps in managing your fears, you will eventually manage to get dental treatments with less or mild anxiety. Here are some helpful tips in managing your dentophobia when visiting your dentist:
- Know your triggers: Just like with pain, no one can identify your triggers for you. Observe yourself when you hear the sound of a drill or smell a dental solution. Write down your triggers and also observe what calms you down or your coping strategies.
- Communicate your fears to your dentist: Letting your dentist know your dentophobia can help him understand your condition and adjust his approach to help you overcome your fear. Communicating your fears also helps the dental staff personalize your treatment to make you feel more comfortable during your visit.
- Try relaxation exercises before going to the dentist: Doing a breathing exercise can help relax your brain, decompress your muscles, and reduce your heart rate before going to the dentist. Avoid any anxiety-inducing beverages to prevent your anxiety from getting worse.
- Visit the dentist in the morning when there are fewer patients: Overstimulation of the sound of drills and hearing other patients in the other rooms can trigger your anxiety. If possible, ask your dentist if they can reserve your appointment at a time when there are fewer patients in their dental practice.
- Go to your dentist with a loved one or a friend: Having someone accompany you to the dentist can lessen your anxiety and feel more supported during your treatment. Your family member or friend can also help cheer you up and assure you that you will be fine during your appointment.
- Discover an effective distraction like music or a fidget spinner: To help keep your mind off the dental treatment or keep you from hearing the drill, you can use a noise-canceling headphone or play relaxing music during your treatment. You can also ask your dentist if you can hold a fidget spinner as a distraction to alleviate your anxiety.
Let Genesis Family Dentistry help you change the way you see dentists
Genesis Family Dentistry understands what patients with dentophobia have to go through to visit a dentist. We aim to make patients with traumatic dental experiences realize that pain-free dentistry is possible. By providing personalized dental care, we can help you achieve your oral health goals despite your dental fear.
Meet Dr. Stacey Alston
Dr. Alston is a passionate and trusted dentist in Uptown Charlotte near Plaza Midwood. She will acknowledge your fears and make treatment adjustments to make you feel comfortable and safe. Talk to Dr. Alston by calling us or scheduling an appointment now. Let us know about your triggers so we can work together in overcoming your dentophobia.