If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone. Between 9% and 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. Indeed, it is a universal phenomenon.
Dental phobia is a more serious condition than anxiety. It leaves people panic-stricken and terrified. People with dental phobia have an awareness that the fear is totally irrational, but are unable to do much about it. They exhibit classic avoidance behavior; that is, they will do everything possible to avoid going to the dentist. People with dental phobia usually go to the dentist only when forced to do so by extreme pain. Pathologic anxiety or phobia may require psychiatric consultation in some cases.
Other signs of dental phobia include:
Fortunately, there are ways to get people with dental anxiety and dental phobia to the dentist.
What Causes Dental Phobia and Anxiety?
There are many reasons why some people have dental phobia and anxiety. Some of the common reasons include:
The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with your dentist. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, he or she will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable. If your dentist doesn't take your fear seriously, find another dentist.
If lack of control is one of your main stressors, actively participating in a discussion with your dentist about your treatment can ease your tension. Ask your dentist to explain what's happening at every stage of the procedure. This way you can mentally prepare for what's to come. Another helpful strategy is to establish a signal -- such as raising your hand -- when you want the dentist to immediately stop. Use this signal whenever you are uncomfortable, need to rinse your mouth, or simply need to catch your breath.
For many people the dental office is not an easy place to come. We delight in providing a place where people feel that they are being heard. Through open lines of communication and listening to each person’s individual needs, their lives are transformed from avoiding the dentist, to enjoying the experience that we provide. We are proud to say that we have helped many of our fearful clients achieve a very comfortable dental home!