Health > Dental Health > Dental phobia
Dental phobia is a fear, or phobia, traditionally defined as an irrational and exaggerated fear of dentists and dental procedures. Some controversy exists with regards to whether the fear is "irrational", as dental phobia is most commonly caused by previous bad experiences
Dental phobia is most often caused by bad, or sometimes horrific, dental experiences (studies suggest that this is true for about 80 -85% of dental phobias, but there are difficulties with obtaining representative samples). Dental phobia is also quite common in people who have been sexually abused, particularly in childhood. A history of bullying or having been physically or emotionally abused by a person in authority may also contribute to developing dental phobia, especially in combination with bad experiences with dentists.
- Tell the dentist about your fears. This information will help the dentist determine how to best manage and address those fears. By letting the dentist know exactly why the experience is difficult for you, you will feel more control in the examination chair.
- Remember that dental procedures have greatly improved in the past few years. Modern dentistry offers new methods and treatment options to make you feel comfortable.
- Your dentist can explain the entire procedure to you beforehand, as well as walk you through step-by-step while the procedure is being performed. You always have the right to fully understand the work being done on your teeth.
- Consider additional medication to relax. Many dentists recommend nitrous oxide, sedation or anti-anxiety medicine for extremely nervous patients. Find a dentist who offers these options to help you get through the visit.
- Find a dentist you are comfortable with and establish a trusting relationship. There are many personalities in the dental profession. Find a dentist who makes you feel at ease and is willing to work with you on your fears.
- Breathe deeply and try to relax. Some dentists recommend practicing relaxation techniques before and during the appointment. Other dentists find that listening to music, or scheduling an appointment first thing in the morning, before the stresses of the day add up, also help patients to relax.
- Talk to the dentist about stopping if you're uncomfortable. Many of the dentists surveyed said they establish a signal to "stop" with their patients. This puts you in control of the procedure and alerts the dentist if you're uncomfortable or need to take a break during the appointment.
- Visit the dentist regularly to prevent problems. For fearful patients, just going for a check up can be nerve-wracking, but the more you go to the dentist for routine cleanings, the more likely you are to avoid larger problems that result in extensive procedures.
- Visit the office and talk to the staff before your first appointment. You should feel free to meet with the dentist and to ask questions before scheduling your appointment. Meeting the dentist and his or her staff first will help you find a dentist you like and trust.
- Go slow. Dentists are happy to go slow with nervous patients. If possible, make sure your first visit is a simple one, such as a cleaning. This will help you build your relationship with the dentist before going in for a more difficult procedure.