Going to the dentist is probably not something anyone would call ‘fun’. But for some, a trip to the dentist can instil pure terror. Odontophobia is a fear of the dentist that impacts 5% of the Australian population – that’s 1,215,000 people!
So, why do people fear the dentist so much?
The root cause of the fear
Many sufferers of this particular phobia would actually prefer to have it named otherwise. This is because the fear of the dentist isn’t something most people are born with, but is actually a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder relating to past experiences with the dentist.
In fact, the majority of sufferers can trace their fear back to a traumatic experience in their childhood, while others say that it’s due to other issues such as anxiety disorders, substance abuse or domestic violence. The same feeling of helplessness these circumstances create are heightened when laying in the dental chair.
It is important for dentists to take into consideration the level of fear their patient may experience and take measures to alleviate their discomfort.
If you suffer from any of the following, be sure to let your dentist know.
Some symptoms of this phobia include:
- Having trouble sleeping the night before a dental exam
- Getting nervous when in the waiting room
- Feeling like crying when you need to go to the dentist
- Feeling physically sick
- Panic or hyperventilation when objects are placed in the mouth during examination
While this fear may keep people from visiting the dentist regularly, sooner or later, there will be a need for a checkup. Some ways to help people overcome their fear includes:
Some dentists have found positive reinforcement to be a useful tool. When dentists explain what they are about to do as they do it, patients feel guided through events in advance of them happening. Patients are better able to prepare themselves when they know what to expect each step of the way and feel supported when praised for their efforts. Other dentists have found that letting patients bring their music players in and listen to their favourite music through headphones can allow patients to meditate or focus on something else while in the chair.
If behavioural techniques don’t help, sometimes gas sedation may be offered to take the edge off of any feelings of anxiety. Another option may be the use of localised injection-free numbing to reduce the sensation of instruments in the mouth or a combination of all of the above techniques.
As you can see, pain free dentistry can alleviate fear through a combination of behavioural and pharmacological techniques. Most can be treated with “gentle dentistry” combined with the added comfort of a dentist who takes a patient’s fear and discomfort into account.
If you’re terrified of the dentist, don’t put off your appointments.
Book with us and rest assured that the team at Maven Dental Yokine are here to guide you through the process step by step and ensure that you have a pain and worry free experience.