Dental Phobia is a bigger problem than you think. According to The Journal of the American Dental Association, at least ¾ of the US population is afflicted with general fears or anxiety towards dental treatments. Meanwhile, about 20 percent are diagnosed with dental phobia, a more extreme condition than anxiety.
Phobias, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, are defined as fears that are “excessive and unreasonable.” People with dental phobia tend to avoid dental visits. During treatment, they may suffer from panic attacks characterized by excessive sweating, shortness of breath and nausea.
Causes of Dental Phobia
There are several identified causes of dental anxiety or phobia. This includes fear of pain, feeling ashamed or embarrassed about neglecting your teeth, feeling helpless or out of control during dental treatments and previous painful or negative experiences during a dentist visit.
The largest link is previous traumatic experiences. Especially during childhood, the parent’s attitude towards dental care has a large impact on the manifestation of dental phobia in adulthood. Many people have that common experience in their childhood when their parent brings them to a dentist with a gruff chairside manner, who pulls out the decayed teeth with a scary-looking plier without as much as a warning. Forward to a few years later, dental visitations have become synonymous to fear and pain.
Getting Around Dental Phobia With Painless Dental Visits
Back in the day, dental phobia was sternly handled with an attitude of – get over it. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work for everyone, especially those with severe cases.
Things have changed with time. More and more dentists are listening to their patients and reaching out to dental phobes to treat dental phobia by creating painless and more efficient dental visits. Here are steps on how to get painless dental visits:
- Know More About Your Condition. If your phobia is too severe that it prevents normal dental treatment, you should look for a dentist who specializes in treating phobias to know more about your condition. Some clinics administer psychological tests to patients with dental phobia to get a better treatment plan. That’s how dentist psychologists came to be.
- Make Sure to Get the Sedation Level You Need:You cannot eliminate sedation in pain-free dental procedures, especially if you undergo lengthy and intensive treatment. Be certain that your dentist is licensed in sedation to make sure you get the sedation level you need and minimize the dangers of getting anesthetized. If you think you can bear the risks of unauthorized use of sedatives, you should know that there are 2-3 reported deaths related to dental procedures every year. And the leading cause is anesthesia/medication-related complications.
- Find a Good Dental Environment. Getting painless dental visits do not end with medication. The clinical environment plays a huge role in reducing stress and ‘perceived pain.’ Imagine a comfortable dental environment with noise-cancelling headphones to block off the dental sounds, a dental massage chair, and a TV overhead with your favorite Netflix shows. Add to that a great caring team who are empathetic and compassionate of your anxiety and fear. It would be easier to get rid of our dental phobia.
You don’t need to be scared of visiting the dentist. There are dental care providers you can trust that can provide you with the most comfortable stay possible.
Dr Reem Kidess of Scottsdale, AZ, has been in dental practice since 1995 and is licensed in sedation dentistry by the Arizona Board of Dentistry. Her spa-style dental office in Paradise Valley is built with patient comfort in mind. For more information about painless dental visits in the Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and Phoenix area of Arizona, call 480-991-2290.