Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dental Phobia

What is dental phobia?
Phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. This is not an unusual situation - many suffer from various types of phobia. Dental phobia means the sufferer will try their best to avoid or act irrationally on anything that requires probing, scraping, filling, or worse, pulling their teeth out. Dental phobia is a person's fear to receive dental care from a dentist. They would rather endure the pain rather than see a dental specialist to reduce, or even cure, the pain.

Is it common?
Dental phobia is famous around the globe. It is roughly estimated that more than 75% of adults in the United States experience dental phobia, ranging from mild to severe.

What is the worst thing you can do?
If you avoid regular dental check-ups, you can have major health problems in your future. Dental problems (decayed/stained teeth, bleeding gums, bad breath, etc.) can contribute to your cardiovascular and mental health.

Why does it occur?
Dental phobia occurs mainly because of the terrifying instruments being used during the check-up. They are sharp and made out of metal. As humans, we have a natural reaction towards sharp things being poked into our mouth. We usually would imagine the sharp tool would hurt us eventually. Mass media also plays a role contributing to this problem. Portrayals of dentists being harsh towards their patients definitely do not help sufferers, as their fear level may increase.

Dental phobia can be divided into 2 groups:

1. Direct experience
The phobia started since they entered the door to the clinic. The experience they get from the clinic's environment could determine their experience inside the dentist's room. Usually, the first visit to the clinic contributes to the phobia, as the sufferers visit when their dental problem has already become severe. For example, a patient with a toothache comes to the dentist when the problem is so severe, that is requires the dentist to pull the tooth out. Thus, from the pain experienced or the treatment received, the patient develops a phobia so strong that he does not revisit a dentist ever again.

2. Indirect experience
It comes from truly horrifying tales related by those who have already been to a dentist and suffered from it. For example, those who when to the dentist for a scaling treatment would have their gums bleeding accidentally. Thus, they would go around exaggerating about this and eventually contributes to someone else's fear. The mass media, such as movies, also contributes to a person's indirect fear of the dentist.

Stepping into this environment against may evoke your dental fear. It is not unusual to see people with pale faces or children revolting in tears waiting anxiously for their turn in the dental chair.

How does a dentist handle a dental-phobic?
Dentists try to gain the patient's trust to treat them by making them feel comfortable and at ease. Breaking the boundary between the patient-dentist relationship and becoming the your friend is a great way that dentists try to make you feel less anxious. It is vital for your dentist to understand your fear.

Your dentist's relationship with you should be based on trust. Knowing that your dentist is giving you the best treatment will help to reassure your nerves. Your dentist will keep reassuring you again and again to make sure that everything is going okay.

What can you do to lessen your anxiety about going to the dentist?
1. Do some research
When looking for a new dentist, take the time to find the right one for you. Visit several dental practices, speak to the staff, and you will know which one makes you feel most at east.

2. Find a friend
Your dentist is not just someone who looks after your teeth. They should also be your friend. Make sure that you feel comfortable around them. Having an informal chat about where you are going on your holiday will make you feel more relaxed.

3. Seek recommendations
When on the hunt for a new dentist, always ask friends, family and work colleagues about a dentist they visit and can recommend. Word of mouth is a great way to find a reliable and experienced dentist.

4. Take a buddy
Take a friend with you to your appointment. The dentist should not mind if they accompany you throughout the check-up or treatment. Knowing that they are there to support you will help you feel more at ease.

5. Signs
You and your dentist should agree on a dentist to signal that you need a break and want them to stop when you are having your treatment. It can be as simple as pointing your finger. This will help you feel more in control.

6. Music
Take a personal stereo or ask the dentist if you can listen to music from your phone during your visit to help you relax. If you are nervous about the sounds of all the instruments in the dental office, check out this website that tells you what sounds each instrument makes! 

7. Communicate
When you visit the dentist, be sure to tell them that you are anxious about your appointment. A good dentist will do everything they can to help you feel at ease and relaxed.

8. Visualize
When in the dentist's chair, try to relax by closing your eyes and imagining yourself in a relaxing environment. This could be at home on the sofa or at your favorite holiday location. This can help remove you from the environment of the dentist, ultimately removing the negative feelings you are experiencing, and helping you feel more at ease.

9. Take a break
When at the dentist, discuss how long treatment will take and ask if it would be possible to have a break half-way through. This will break up the time of the treatment, making it more manageable for you.

10. Build Your Confidence
If you do not feel confident enough to have a full dental treatment, visit your dentist for a general check-up to start off with. This will be short and straight forward and should help you feel more at ease about visiting the dentist again. For your next visit, book a hygienist treatment, which is a straight forward cleaning. Taking baby steps will build your confidence about visiting the dentist.

Why should you try your best to overcome dental anxiety?
Some people are unwilling to pay the price for a beautiful smile because of this problem they have. But you would not want to forgo the excitement of having great food with friends, right? Take baby steps towards the dental clinic and other will help you overcome your phobia. Only you can start making the change for yourself!




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