Fear of the dentist, a condition known as dental phobia, afflicts up to 20 percent of the U.S. population, including residents of Palm Beach Gardens. People with dental phobia find the thought of a dental visit terrifying and will do just about anything to avoid dental appointments. There are many causes of dental-related fears, including past negative experiences that can be highly detrimental to oral health. If you or a loved one suffers from fear of the dentist, it is essential to understand what dental phobia is and ways to overcome it.
Causes of Dental Phobia
Dentists generally have good people skills. Having spent years mastering their skills, they can place their patients’ well-being above other considerations. So why do some people fear dentists? Some of the common causes of dental phobia include:
- Personal embarrassment: There are times dental phobia comes as a result of feeling shame rather than actual fear. A person with obvious dental issues may be afraid that a dentist will judge him for his medical problems. The fact that that they feel embarrassed about their dental issues can sadly prevent them from getting dental care, creating a vicious cycle.
- Environmental triggers: Some dental procedures involve the use of large instruments, face masks or screens that can be quite intimidating. A patient can easily get overwhelmed by such a setting, provoking anxiety.
- Instinctual desire to protect air passages: According to research, human beings have an instinct to protect their nose and mouth. Sadly, if a patient is not able to control these instincts, it can get in the way of getting proper dental health care.
- Past emotional or physical trauma: People who are dealing with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) become afraid in situations they do not have control over. The cause of the trauma may not necessarily have anything to do with a dentist’s office.
How To Overcome Dental Phobia
The good news is that your dentist in Palm Beach Gardens can help people control dental phobia and in some cases resolve it entirely. How?
- If you experience anxiety just by thinking about booking an appointment with a dentist, try talking to the dentist ahead of time. You can be honest and explain your fears, and the dentist will, in turn, take extra steps to ensure your comfort throughout the procedure.
- Try group or individual counseling. Talking about your fears to others who can relate to your feelings can significantly help you deal with your concerns. You can try talking to a professional therapist to help uncover the root cause of your phobia and lay a foundation for future recovery.
- You can also try to use anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication to block the psychological mechanisms that provoke the fear response.
Sedation Dentistry Alternative
Counseling and medication can help patients deal with dental phobia. However, these methods are not always practical, especially when you have to see a dentist right away. In such cases, you can try sedation dentistry. Dentists use modern dental sedatives to help a patient rest and relax while the procedure is going on, eliminating stress and discomfort. This alternative is effective, gentle and extremely safe.
Thanks to technological advancement, we live in an era when dental science has so many treatment options to offer. If you fear a dental visit, talk to your dentist about sedation and other options that can help you manage your anxiety. There is a good chance you can change your perspective about dental visits and have a positive experience.