Let’s be honest: not many people enjoy going to the dentist. Many people grumble about their preventive and restorative dental care appointments, and some even avoid them altogether. In fact, more than 80 percent of American adults have some fear of the dentist and nearly 25 percent of Americans are so fearful that they avoid their dental check-ups unless they’re in pain. Unfortunately, this fear and avoidance can do damage to your oral health. Here, we take a look at what dental phobia is and ways to deal with it so you – and your oral health – don’t suffer.
What is dental phobia?
Dental phobia can be referred to as dental fear, odontophobia, dentophobia, or dental anxiety. Psychologically, it’s a general fear of dentistry, being in a dental office, or receiving dental care. Even a mild dislike of dental care can lead to anxiety, which can cause a person to avoid dental care. When the anxiety heightens to a point where it affects an individual’s decisions to maintain their own health, he or she may experience dental phobia.
Several factors can trigger heightened anxiety, and an individual can experience one or more of these factors simultaneously. Many of these stressors can be found in a dental office. These include the smells of dental compounds (especially strong-odored medicaments like eugenol and bleach), seeing dental instruments (especially needles and forceps), and hearing the tools of the dental office (such as the drill). Patients can associate these sensory responses with previous dental experiences, especially if those experiences were negative and left a strong impression earlier in life.
What are ways to deal with dental phobia?
Dental phobia doesn’t have to derail your oral health. Here are some ways to deal with your dental anxiety so you can get the care that you need:
How can I lessen my dental phobia?
The best way to avoid experiencing dental phobia is with preventative oral care. Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are always important to keeping your mouth healthy. But, it’s the oral care at home that can keep you from needing more complicated procedures. Whether or not you have a fear of the dentist, brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, floss at least once daily, and limit sugary snacks between your main courses. These preventative measures can help maintain a healthy mouth in between regular check-ups. As you and your dentist work to make those routine visits stress-free, it won’t take long until intense fears and distress start to lessen. And, as each dental appointment becomes easier, your teeth and gums will become healthier, too.
Do you have any questions about dental phobia? Call Westermeier Martin Dental care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-508-4547.