Posted .

About Dental Phobia

If you suffer from dental fear, you are not alone. In fact, according to WebMD, as many as 5-8% of the population avoids going the dentist altogether, and up to 20% only go in an emergency due to their dental fear. These are serious statistics.

There are 3 categories of “fear factor” under the umbrella term, “Dental Phobia”. See if any of these apply to you.

1. Anxiety – this is a mild response that can include elevated heart rate, restricted breathing, butterflies in your stomach, etc. You may not be sure why you feel this way, but you do.
2. Fear – this stronger emotion may be caused by one or more “triggers” that are linked to a past bad experience. Some of the more common triggers or fears are:

Embarrassment
Judgment
Self-consciousness
Gagging/choking
Pain
Loss of control
The drill
Sights/sounds/smells
Needles
Extensive treatment
Feeling numb
Sometimes dental fear is simply “inherited” from parents or by hearing stories from friends. Fearful patients commonly have “white knuckles” from gripping the dental chair.

3. Phobia – this is the most extreme form of reaction. Individuals with true dental phobia have an uncontrollable physical reaction that can even include getting sick. It’s not uncommon for truly phobic patients to delay seeking dental treatment for 10, 20 or 30 years.

What Should I Do If I Have Dental Anxiety, Dental Fear or Dental Phobia?

The first step in conquering dental fear is finding a dentist you trust. Look for a dentist who is caring and communicates well – you’ll want someone who really listens to you. Make sure to talk about your fear with your dentist and his/her team.

Dental anxiety often diminishes with a few visits to an understanding dentist who can help you put those anxieties to rest. You should feel that the dentist and his/her team truly cares about you and the outcome of your overall health.

Dental fears, as well, can often be diminished or controlled. A good dentist will understand your fears and do his/her best to work within your level of comfort. Your dentist should be willing to discuss every step of the visit, including the details of any treatment you need, so that you feel as in control of the situation as possible.

Some dental phobias can be impossible to quell, but many can be diminished over time – sometimes with the help of a psychologist specializing in phobias. If you are afraid, talk to your dentist about sedation dentistry, as this can go a long way towards creating a safe and fear-free experience for you.

If you need help getting past your dental fear, you’ve found the right place. At NHCCD, everyone on our team has extensive training and years of experience in helping fearful patients feel as comfortable, safe and in control as possible. Put your fears to rest today. Contact us now – we can help.