Tag Archives: Dental Phobia

Why a Dental Phobia Can Lead to Bad Oral Health

You may have dental phobia if you experience fear, stress, or anxiety in a dental setting. If you believe you have this condition, you’re not alone. Approximately 10-20 percent of Americans avoid visiting their dentist and oral surgeon because of dental anxiety, according to WebMD. 

Discover the adverse effects of dental phobia.

What is Dental Phobia?

Dental phobia can be unmanageable, often leaving people panic-stricken to the point where they can’t call their dentist. People with this condition know their fear is irrational, but they’re unable to do much about it. Most people with dental phobia only visit their dentist or oral surgeon when they’re experiencing sharp pain and have no other choice. 

Read on to learn about the causes of dental phobia.

Causes of Dental Anxiety

Generally, most people develop dental phobia due to the following:

Fear of pain: Many people avoid going to the dentist because they don’t want to experience pain. Avoiding discomfort usually stems from childhood trauma. For instance, if you have dental phobia, perhaps you went through an unpleasant dental experience when you were younger. Maybe you’ve heard dental horror stories from your friends, which can reinforce your phobia. However, it’s worth noting modern dental procedures are less painful than those of years past. 

Fear of needles: Many people go numb at the thought of needles, especially if one is going inside their mouths. Moreover, some of them think anesthesia is ineffective, so there’s little a dentist can do to change their mind. 

Fear of side effects: Some people fear anesthesia’s side effects, such as dizziness, fainting, and nausea.

Fear of helplessness: Many people with dental phobia are scared of losing control. Some of them are put off by the thought of sitting with their mouth wide open, unable to see what their dentist is doing.

Embarrassment: Some individuals don’t like it when people get too close to their face because they’re self-conscious about their appearance. Others may not like their teeth and don’t want anyone observing them up-close. 

The Impact of Dental Phobia on Your Oral Health

Avoiding your dentist or oral surgeon can result in worsened dental health, leading to more invasive and expensive treatment. Furthermore, it feeds into your fears, known as the “vicious cycle of dental anxiety.” 

Scheduling biannual dental checkups can keep oral diseases at bay. Additionally, your dentist will be able to detect problems early, so you may not need to undergo dental surgery. Most oral diseases are related to your lifestyle and are preventable. If you stop visiting your dentist, you will be missing out on learning how to better care for your teeth and gums. 

Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah is Here for You

If you believe you have dental phobia, we recommend you consult with a therapist who can help you overcome your fears. Our board-certified oral surgeons at Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah can help you with your dental problems. We specialize in tooth extraction, dental implant insertion, bone grafting, and more. We are sensitive to our patients’ needs so that you can rest assured your comfort comes first. We have offices in South Jordan, Cottonwood Heights, and Tooele. Schedule your free consultation today.

Why a Dental Phobia Can Lead to Bad Oral Health

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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