Many thanks to Dr David Cashel, an experienced dental practitioner with a special and long term interest in patients who are frightened of the dentist. There’s more information on his website page www.davidcashel.com/dental phobia and there’s also plenty of information on this wikipedia page about fear of the dentist.
Afraid of the Dentist?
One of the most common fears out there isn’t public speaking or even death, it’s going to the dentist. Even though the profession exists solely to help the public with a very important area of health, most people do everything they can to avoid a dentist appointment. However, some people have a legitimate phobia that can keep them from a dentist’s chair for years, even if it means putting their health in serious peril. While somewhere between 5% and 10% probably have this type of extreme fear, closer to 20% hate going to the dentist enough that they’ll only go when it becomes completely necessary.
The Root of This Fear
It’s not hard for most of us to understand this kind of fear, even if we don’t share in it. Sitting in a dentist’s chair is never fun. At some point, it also generally involves sharp objects and at least minor amounts of discomfort. That being said, a good amount of people who fear the dentist associate their anxiety with a feeling of giving up control. They don’t like feeling as vulnerable as they do when in a dentist’s chair.
Other people simply have anxiety issues to begin with. They may have disorders or stress brought on by domestic violence, war, sexual abuse, etc. Going through any type of stressful situation, then, will trigger much greater amounts of anxious.
Be Assertive and Upfront About Your Fear
Trust me, dentists know that most of us would rather not visit them. They won’t be offended if you make it perfectly clear that you have a phobia about coming in for an appointment. One of the main problems with dentistry is that a lot of dentists simply assume that everyone has the same threshold for pain. As such, they often cause undue pain to their patience without ever knowing it.
So let them know upfront that you don’t like being there and that the pain and discomfort may have something to do with it. If you do feel pain at some point, simply let them know.
Go to a Specialist
Furthermore, many dentists specialize in patients who have a phobia of seeing them. These dentists will go out of their way to create an environment that is as calming as possible. They may provide you with anesthesia to help numb any pain or uncomfortable feelings you’d otherwise feel. Today, there are even TVs attached to the ceiling so you can watch shows and distract yourself from what’s going on in your mouth.
These dentists are also great about handling your nerves and the type of personality that hates being in the chair. They’ll constantly ask for permission to do certain things, so that you’ll always feel in charge. You’ll also be notified before they start any new procedure so you see it coming and aren’t taken by surprise. This is also a good way to help the patient feel assertive.
Go with Someone
It’s easy to become fearful when your mind has plenty of time to collect nerve wracking thoughts. Even if you get to the dentist’s office, you may soon leave if sitting in the waiting room means you have time to think about your fears and allow them to grow greater. Consider bringing someone you trust, then, who doesn’t fear dentists themselves, but understands your issues. They can help keep you distracted and feeling safe when you’re waiting for the dentist.
Don’t be ashamed of your fear of the dentist. Chances are more people have this kind of phobia and simply don’t admit it. However, you shouldn’t let this fear impact your health. Instead, think about the above and make an appointment as soon as possible.