What Is Dental Phobia?

Dental phobia, also known as dentophobia, is a term therapists and psychologists use to describe the fear and anxiety a person may experience in a dental setting. People who are scared of visiting their dentist or oral surgeon may avoid dental treatment entirely. 

Continue reading to learn about the effects of dental phobia. 

Dental Phobia Can Result in Complications

Dental phobia varies dramatically from person to person, and it’s typically the result of genetics or trauma. Some people can avoid their dentists for years without experiencing significant teeth and gum damage, whereas others are more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease. You shouldn’t avoid seeing your dentist because if you have oral health problems, they can result in infection, which can impact your general health. 

In today’s blog, we will discuss the symptoms of dental phobia as well as coping mechanisms.

Types of Dentophobia

Dentophobia is divided into the following elements:

  • The dentist: Some people have a fear of IRS auditors and surgeons, but others have an irrational fear of dentists. If you’ve had a negative experience with a particular dentist, you may think all dentists are the same. 
  • Pain: Completely painless dentistry is impossible, and most procedures involve some degree of pain. Most people are sensitive to oral pain, and some people with dental phobia may believe the discomfort will last forever.
  • Noises: Some people with dentophobia are afraid of the sounds that come from a dentist’s office. For instance, some patients may go numb when they hear the sound of a drill. 
  • Needles: If you’re afraid of needles, you may be terrified of the needles dentists use to numb a patient’s mouth. 

What Causes Dental Phobia?

Dental anxiety is usually caused by:

  • A traumatic dental experience or other healthcare experiences
  • Previous head or neck trauma
  • Generalized anxiety, depression, or PTSD
  • Feeling like your personal space is being invaded
  • Fear of losing control
  • Trust issues

How Can I Tell If I Have Dental Phobia?

People with dental phobia usually experience the following when talking about the dentist:

  • Sweating
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure, which can lead to fainting
  • Visible distress, which may include crying
  • Withdrawal, or using humor to mask panic

Some anxious patients frequently miss their dental appointments or refuse to schedule one in the first place.

How Can I Cope With Dental Phobia?

If your dentophobia is paralyzing, we recommend you consult with a licensed mental health professional before seeking dental treatment. A therapist or psychologist can help you get over your fear by guiding you through these techniques:

  • Deep breathing
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Guided imagery
  • Hypnosis
  • Progressive muscle relaxation

Once your phobia is manageable, you will be able to visit your dentist or oral surgeon. When you schedule your consultation, explain you have dentophobia and need accommodations. Ask your dentist or oral surgeon if you can watch television or listen to music during your appointment. Alternatively, you can also ask for sedatives to fall asleep. 

Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah Can Help You

Although dental phobia is debilitating, you must try your best to routinely visit your dentist or oral surgeon to stay on top of your oral and general health. At Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah, our board-certified oral surgeons have experience at working with people of all backgrounds. We will tend to your needs and treat you with the utmost respect. Contact us today.

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