Of all the doctors and medical professionals that someone might need to visit during their lifetime, it is the dentist who strikes fear into more people than anyone else. It can range from mild nervousness to outright panic and at its worst a phobia that prevents the sufferer from getting the dental care that they need.
Fear of going to the dentist is something which affects men, women, teenagers, and children so age is no indicator of whether someone will be affected or not. What will differ are both the intensity of the fear and the underlying reasons behind it. Here are some of the most common ones and one or two ways to overcome them if they occur.
Previous bad experience: A long-term fear of going to the dentist can often be triggered by a single event such as painful extraction or extreme discomfort whilst a dental procedure was being performed in the past. Often the level of pain was less than the person believes it to have been but when they think about the experience it triggers anxiety each time they revisit the dentist for fear of it occurring again.
The fact is the majority of dental procedures are relatively painless due to the numbing agent used beforehand. Also, even after the procedure is complete and the numbing agent starts to wear off, any pain still felt will not be as high as one might imagine it to be.
Fear of the unknown: Whenever a dentist explains that a procedure will need to be undertaken unless it is explained in full a fear of not knowing what is about to happen can occur, even if the procedure itself is not particularly painful.
The easiest way to remedy this is to ask the dentist to explain the procedure fully and to outline what, if any, pain might be felt whilst it is being undertaken.
Fear of loss of control: Lying on a dentist’s chair with your mouth wide open, whilst having someone stand over you and work inside of your mouth isn’t the most comfortable or natural experience for anyone. You are basically at the mercy of the dentist, and for some, this feeling can bring on high levels of anxiety or fear.
This is a scenario which is best helped by explaining the anxiety to the dentist beforehand so that they are aware of it. One simple step is for them to explain what they are doing along the way. This takes the patient’s mind off any discomfort they are feeling and instead focuses it on what the dentist is saying to them.
Embarrassment: This occurs when the patient has not been looking after their teeth as well as they should and they feel ashamed or embarrassed about going to the dentist for fear of what they might think or say.
Firstly, it is an absolute fact that no matter how bad you think your teeth are, the dentist will have a seen a whole lot worse. Second, it is not in the dentist’s interest to shame you. Rather, they will want to put right any damage and give you advice on how to improve your dental care regime.