Most of the people don’t look at the dental appointment with enthusiasm. They would rather walk on burning coal than go to the dentist. But the dentist’s office is not a place that should cause fear. Most dental procedures don’t hurt, but for most people, even an examination can be stressful.
Anxiety vs. Phobia
Most people who are having anxiety about dentists can live with it, but there are people who suffer from dental phobia. For them going to the dentist is one of the most terrifying experiences. A phobia is an intense and unreasonable fear. Persons with a dental phobia are so terrified about going to the dentist that they avoid it for years or even decades. They even put up with extreme cavities, gum disease, broken teeth and a lot of pain. Dental phobia and anxiety are extremely common. More than 15% of people in America avoid seeing a dentist because of fear and anxiety. This means roughly 45 million people don’t see the dentist because of fear.
There are people who think phobia and anxiety mean the same thing, but this is not true. People who suffer from dental anxiety have a sense of uneasiness when they wait to go to their dental appointment. They are edgy and have exaggerated worries or fears. On the other hand, dental phobia is a condition more serious. Only the thought of going to the dentist gives them intense fear or dread. The feeling is not a mere anxiety episode, but it has more to do with terror and panic. People who suffer from dental phobia have a higher risk of early tooth loss and gum disease. All this because they avoid the dentist at all costs. Avoiding the dentist can also have an emotional effect. Over time, the discoloration and damage to the teeth can make individuals self-conscious and insecure. As a result, they will start to smile less and keep their mouths partially closed while they speak. Over time, this will lead to hurt their personal life and professional life. A severe loss of self-esteem is present in people who are afraid of going to the dentist.
What causes the anxiety and phobia?
Dental anxieties and phobias torment people for many different reasons. Researchers have made studies on this, and a few common triggers emerged.
- Pain – 6% of the people who have not visited the dentist in the past 12 months have reported the pain as the primary factor. Fear of pain is frequent in people of 24 and older.
- Loss of control and feelings of helplessness – people develop different phobias in a situation where they have no control. They can’t predict what the next event will be, and they feel helpless.
- Embarrassment – many people feel embarrassed or ashamed to have an unknown person look into their mouth. This is for people who are self-conscious about their look.
- Negative past-experience – any discomfort or pain during previous dental visits can be a trigger of anxiety and phobia.
If you find yourself in this article, try to tell your dentist about your feelings, fears, and concerns. They can help you overcome the uncomfortable feelings by changing the way they interact with you and by changing the treatment. You can also resort to a mental health professional to overcome your dental anxiety and phobia.