provided by: David DiGiallorenzo
A phobia may be described as an irrational fear of something. The American Psychiatric Association categorizes phobias into three groups: social phobia, agoraphobia and specific phobia. Dental phobia, which is the irrational fear of dentists and dental procedures, is a specific phobia. Dental fear is the adverse reaction people have towards the dentist as they know what he is going to do to them. This could be due to personal past experiences or from stories one may have heard that made them fearful. It is estimated that up to 15% of Americans suffer from this particular phobia.
There are various reasons why people fear going to the dentist. The most common cause is a previous traumatic experience at the dentist. This could either be because of the pain of the procedure or an unsettling experience at a dentist’s office; these experiences usually take place as young children, when the person may not understand the procedure the dentist is doing. Hearing horror stories from other people may also cause anxiety; some people expect to have similar dental experiences as others. Hearing about someone else’s bad experience might cause one to be hesitant to visit a dentist for fear they might have a similar experience. Other reasons for dental phobia may include a fear of loss of control, fear of choking, fear of needles, or other tools used in dentistry. The fear that one’s teeth are worse than the average is also a common fear. It is important that patients express their concerns and speak with their dentist before they begin their work, as this will help the dentist to be more sensitive to the patient’s needs and give the patient the opportunity to voice any fears or concerns.
Some trepidation or nervousness prior to a dentist visit is quite normal. Most people will suffer some anxiety; it is important to recognize the signs of dental phobia and deal with any fears head on. Some common signs of dental phobia include an anxious or exceedingly nervous feeling, and/or an upset stomach without any physical cause. It is quite common for people suffering from dental phobia to have sleepless nights before a dentist appointment. Other symptoms include trouble breathing during you dental appointment, irrational panic, trembling and tension. Dental phobia may lead to acute anxiety, such that the individual may never pay the dentist a visit leading to serious dental health problems.
Oral health is very important to overall well-being. Visiting a dentist, therefore, is a necessary evil. It is important to overcome any fears or anxieties to make sure you are taking care of your dental health and hygiene properly; seeing a dentist regularly will help to avoid more serious dental problems later on. Any person can beat dental fear. Finding an understanding dentist is an important step toward finding ways of coping with dental phobia. The dentist can do certain things to ease your anxiety during treatment. This may range from sedating the patient, administering anti-anxiety medicine or using a general anesthetic. He may also play soothing music to distract the patient. Long term options include hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, acupuncture and counseling. Dental phobia can be treated. It may help to take a family member or trusted friend with you to your dentist appointment to calm any fears.
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