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Ease your – How to overcome dental anxiety ?

Imagine you are suffering from a severe toothache, would you prefer to bear the pain or immediately visit the dentist? If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone! Many people avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. If you too do, then you might have Dentophobia.

What is Dentophobia?

Dentophobia, also known as odontophobia, occurs when you're extremely afraid of going to the dentist, or dentists in general, or dental procedures.  Worldwide, it has been estimated that as many as 60% of patients have some form of dentophobia – it could be the fear of the dental procedures, the equipment, noises of the tools dentists use or the fear of the dentist him/herself. There are still others who are just simply nervous, these are not really classified as having dentophobia.  People with a dental phobia do everything possible to avoid going to the dentist, going only when forced to by extreme pain.  Signs of dental phobia include:
  • Difficulty sleeping the night before the dental visit or
  • Shivers and feeling of nervousness before entering the dentist's cabin
  • Crying or feeling physically ill at the very thought of visiting the dentist
  • Intense uneasiness at the thought of, and actually when, a dentist places objects in your mouth
  • The sound of the drill makes you feel nervous and scared.
But, what could be the reason why so many people have developed this phobia?

What are the causes of Dentophobia or Dental Anxiety?

In most cases, a person has developed dentophobia due to a negative dental experience in the past – it could be poor treatment or painful aftermath. At times, people have had bad experiences as and it stays with them until adulthood and is more like a trauma.  In such people, the fear and anxiety level is so high that they would prefer to stay back instead of visiting the dentist for future dental treatments. This lack of dental treatment not only causes worrisome dental problems in the future but can also have ill effects on overall health.  Besides, there may be some very specific reasons for dental anxiety or dentophobia –
  • Fear of pain –  This is the most common reason for dental anxiety and could possibly stem out of past experiences or some dental horror stories that they have read or heard. Undoubtedly, slight pain is a result of not only dental treatments but any field of medicine and it cannot be avoided. However, you can rest assured that dental technology has advanced so well, that as of today, most of the dental treatments and procedures are painless or considerably less painful.
  • Fear of needles – Also known as trypanophobia. This is most common among children and fewer adults. This is again a universal medical fear, not just with dental patients. While surgical treatments will make the use of needles for anaesthesia and the treatment; there are certain dental treatments that do not need the needle. Yes, you read that correctly. Laser cavity filling is one such treatment.  
  • Fear of drills –  Nobody likes the sound of drills, and that too is right in your mouth? Please no! We understand. This one is mostly for a dental cleaning or using the conventional method. At Dental Solutions we are the very few centers to offer contact-less or laser assisted cavity filling  which can completed avoid drilling.
  • Fear of anaesthesia –  This fear is related to the anaesthesia failing and you imagine yourself getting hit nerve-dead on. Let us tell you as dental professionals, this never happens. Trust us, we make sure all the checks are done before we start the treatment, so in no way, would this fear ever come true, at least not with the most trusted dental professionals. 
  These are the most common ones, there could still be other fears like – fear of numbness, gagging problems, treatment going wrong, side effects of the treatment, etc. But holding back from visiting the dentist because of these fears can put your oral and overall health at risk. The positive factor of all phobias is that they can all be beaten and overcome.

How to overcome Dentophobia?

There are many ways to help people manage dental anxiety or phobia.
  • Talk to your dentist –  It is important to let the dentist know if you experience any sort of dental anxiety. Open discussion around the individual triggers of anxiety can help the dentist work with you to tailor a treatment plan for you. The dentist will also make sure to explain procedures in a calm manner. Interacting with your dentist also helps to build a trusting relationship. Trusting your dentist is the core to any dental treatment.
  • Anxiety relieving medication –  There are several Oral anxieties relieving (anxiolytic) medications which are sometimes prescribed by dentists or doctors to help anxious patients relax. This medication is usually taken an hour before the dental appointment.
WARNING: Medication should only be taken if advised by your dentist or doctor. Once the dentist or the doctor explains the medicine and its effects, you will need to inform him of any other medical conditions you are suffering from or any medications you are currently consuming. You are not allowed to ride or drive under the influence of this medication and would need someone to accompany you.
  • Distract yourself – While the dentist is doing a routine or a normal checkup, and inspecting your mouth –  you can distract yourself by thinking of a happy place, listen to music, stare at a picture on the wall, or anything, let your mind wander away – Imagination is key at the dental clinic :).
  • Conscious sedation – A dentist will always inform you if the treatment requires sedation and how the sedation procedure works. You need to discuss any health conditions you may have. Sedation is provided by a dental sedationist (a dentist with advanced training in sedation) or an anaesthetist. Under sedation, patients will be relaxed and may fall into a light sleep. Likely side effects include drowsiness and nausea after the procedure. Under all care, the treatment is carried out and you will not feel the pain. Again, you cannot ride or drive yourself home after this treatment. Talk to your dentist for further information.
  • Practice breathing techniques and meditation – Breathing and meditation have been known to keep one relaxed and calm.  This can be practised before a dental visit or a procedure. It will help your body calm down.
  • Therapy: If the phobia is an aggressive one, you can always seek help from a therapist. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can help you address your anxieties and fears. The therapy can help you learn the coping mechanisms to better handle your fears so they don't control your life.
  • The most important of all – Find the right dentist for your care. 
While it is not easy for someone to overcome dentophobia overnight, it is also not something you need to live with for a lifetime. Being scared doesn't mean you skip your regular dental checkups. If you're afraid to see a dentist, walk into our clinic, At Dental Solutions, we will work around your fears to make sure you get the dental care, you need.  

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