Fear. Heebie-jeebies. Anxiety. People often talk about dental phobia — whether it’s a small discomfort or full-on sweating as you drive to the dentist office.
Dental phobia is real and should be taken seriously. Unfortunately, some people are so nervous that they skip going to the dentist at all. Later, they arrive with severe dental problems, which may require multiple visits to correct.
The Washington Post reported in 2015, “Roughly five to 10 percent of the population suffers from dental phobia, but as many as 40 to 75 percent of people experience fear and anxiety related to dentistry that contributes to postponing and canceling appointments, or avoiding the dentist altogether, according to extensive research on the subject.”
If you feel anxious about trips to the dentist, here are some surprising things about dental phobia.
Whether someone’s emotions are a low-level anxiety or a full phobia, there are treatments to help get through a dental visit — and not all of those rely on drugs.
The American Psychological Association reported a success story with one woman who hadn’t seen a dentist in 15 years. During her first two visits, she couldn’t sit in the dentist’s chair. But after developing coping strategies and gradually desensitizing her to the items in the office, she is now able to sit through a cleaning every six months. Some her coping techniques are deep breathing, listening to music, and raising her hand when she needs the dentist or hygienist to give her a break.
While sedation dentistry is also an option, those who choose that route often still feel their anxiety about the dentist; they rely on the drugs to “get through it.” Those who find ways to cope often move past their fears.
“Several studies in Sweden, which opened one of the first dental clinics using psychologists, showed that anxious dental patients who participated in therapy were much more likely to continue dental treatment than those who underwent general anesthesia for procedures,” the Post reported.
Whatever your level of anxiety, we aim to make you feel comfortable so you can maintain a healthy smile. Talk to us about your concerns before your next appointment, and we’ll be happy to work with you for a more comfortable visit.