More often than not, a strong fear of the dentist is what makes people skip appointments and avoid going to the dentist. Phobias are very varied and interesting, but some 20% of people are afraid of the dentist to some degree, including those who are a little tense in the chair, to those that simply cannot bear the thought of going to the extent that they would rather put up with the pain of tooth decay, but regardless, this number is way too high. But these fears can be beat, and we can tell you how and why it is worth it to deal with these issues.
What causes dentophobia?
Usually this fear is caused by negative experiences in the past, and the second is a serious fear of pain. Many people only go to the dentist, when they have been in pain for days, or possibly weeks, until the pain is unbearable, and then the procedure itself is rather unpleasant, which then ends the pain, but is quite bad.
Many people who have needle phobia also associate the dentist with needles, and even the sight of a needle can make them feel sick. The sound of the drill is also a worst enemy for many patients. Both of these phobias are really just fear of pain, and as we associate these sensations with pain, the issues get worse.
Other people complain that it is not the pain they fear, but rather the helplessness, when you are sitting in the chair with your mouth propped open, with a dentist wielding potentially very painful implements, not to mention the unpleasant smells and tastes that are associated with dental treatment.
Why you should not fear the dentist
Dentists are not there to harm you, but rather to help. You must also be aware of what is at stake: tooth decay, gum recession and or a tumour can harm your health much more than a dentist can. You have to decide in your mind which option is less scary for you, and then stick to your decision!
What can you do to fight your fear?
- Don’t go it alone! Pick somebody who you can trust, who makes you feel safe. If necessary, get them to come into the actual operating theatre.
- Distract yourself! Listen to music in the waiting room, and think of something that makes you feel good while in the chair, or a place you would rather be.
- Talk to your dentist! Tell him or her about your fear, they will not laugh, as they know you are not alone. Ask the dentist about your treatment, they will be glad to tell you all about it.
- Pick the right time! It is important to not just cram a dentist appointment into an already busy day, but give yourself time to prepare, when you are calm and have set the day aside for this task. This way you can even stop and restart treatment, if the fear becomes too much.
- Go regularly! If you show up frequently, and not just once every few years, your dental treatments will become less and less painful, and less and less scary as well. The place will not seem as alien, and this will help you in overcoming your fear, and you will start to accept it once you know it will not kill you, and you will feel that there really is nothing to be afraid of here.