Have you heard of dentophobia? You probably guessed it’s a fear of dentists. But dentophobia goes beyond normal discomfort. It’s a fear that paralyzes millions and is much more common than most people would like to admit.
Why are people afraid of dentists? Possible reasons include:
-A childhood trauma at the dentist
-Fear of pain
-Fear of needles
-Fear of the unknown
-Dental horror stories you may have heard from friends
Some patients are so afraid of dentists that they avoid coming in until the pain is so bad that they can barely speak. It’s an irrational fear that plagues rational people. Many dentists go out of their way to make the dental experience as comfortable and scare-free as possible.
Here are ways to combat dentophobia:
-Find a dentist you trust. Ask your friends for recommendations. A good cosmetic dentist will listen to your concerns, address them, and put you at ease.
-Discuss your fears. Ask questions. Communication with your dentist and assistants is key. Dispel fear of the unknown and get reassurance from your dental team so you know exactly what to expect. You can agree on a signal if you need them to pause during a procedure.
-Use relaxation techniques. Techniques like breathing deeply and slowly, listening to music, and imagining a calming scenario in your mind are great for calming anxiety.
–Bring a hand to hold. Sometimes having a friend or loved one come along can provide enormous comfort. Your dentist will determine if having another person in the room is appropriate for whatever procedure being done.
-Last resort: Your dentist may recommend mild sedatives such as nitrous oxide or dental sedation, or depending on the procedure, general anesthesia.
Remember that fear is a learned behavior that can be unlearned. Dentophobia can be a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you put off dental health visits until you’re in great pain or need extensive procedures, you’re reinforcing your negative concept of the dental office. As a valued patient, don’t hesitate to ask for the special attention you deserve!