In America, an estimated 30 million to 40 million people avoid dental visits because of dental anxiety and dental phobia. Those with dental anxiety feel uneasy, worried and fearful when they have to see a dentist. Conversely, those with phobia feel an intense fear or dread when it’s time for their dental appointments.
Symptoms of Dental Anxiety and Phobia
You’re a victim of dental anxiety or phobia if you find yourself postponing your appointments and doing just anything to avoid a dental visit. Here are other symptoms:
- Feeling tense or suffering insomnia the night preceding a dental exam.
- Heightened nervousness when thinking about the dentist or while in the waiting room.
- Panic or troubled breathing when a dentist places objects in your mouth.
Overcoming Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia
To overcome dental anxiety and phobia, you should first understand the cause of your fear. Leading causes of dental phobia include fear of pain, feelings of helplessness, vulnerability, and loss of control, embarrassment, negative experience, and negative reinforcement. Here is how you can deal with your fear of a dental visit:
1. Remember that a number of dental tools and products have made modern family dentistry mostly pain free.
2. Talk it over- find a friendly family dentist and get to know the person inside the white coat. Talk to the dentist about any fears you may have. Your dentist can also recommend coping techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation therapy, distraction, medication, and gradual exposure to specific elements of a “fearful” procedure.
3. Get ready for dental visits- It’s best to ask your dentist about what to expect from a certain procedure, says Scott Dentistry. You will feel in control and consequently less anxious.
4. Give a cue when you’re uncomfortable or when you need your dentist to stop working.
Avoiding visits to the dentist can increase the risk of periodontal disease, tooth loss, and bad breath. Secondary consequences include low self-esteem and reduced quality of life. And since there is a link between gum disease and serious health concerns such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke, dental anxiety and phobia can be life-threatening. Remember that your fear is unreasonable and do all you can to cope and overcome it.