How to Beat Dentophobia or Fear of Dentists: Try These Strategies!

Dentophobia (Fear of Dentists)

What is Dentophobia?

Dentophobia, or dental phobia, is caused by a perceived dental fear or fear of visiting the dentist. People with dentophobia experience anxiety at the very thought of going to the dentist or while at the dentist’s office. This fear can stem from past negative experiences, family history, or a sense of losing control during a dental visit.

Ways to Overcome Dentophobia and Be Confident

For those who have dentophobia, here are some tools to help you cope with and overcome this fear while visiting the dentist with confidence, including:

  • Exposure Therapy: Gradually exposing oneself to the dental environment in a controlled manner.
  • Guided Imagery: Using relaxation and visualization techniques to create a sense of calm.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Using deep breathing and calming techniques to reduce stress and anxiety associated with this type of anxiety.

What’s The Difference Between Dentophobia and Fear of Dental Treatment?

Dentophobia is a severe fear of the dentist that’s disproportionate to the situation. It causes individuals to avoid the dentist even when in pain, leading to poor dental health. In contrast, fear of dental treatment involves distress but is not as severe. People with dental anxiety worry about pain or stress but will still seek dental treatment.

Common Fears Associated with Dentophobia

  • People with a fear of dentistry are often concerned with:
  • Anesthetic: Fear of the anesthetic not working or side effects.
  • Blood: Fear of bleeding during a procedure.
  • Choking: Fear of gagging or choking when the mouth is numbed.
  • The Dentist: Negative feelings associated with past experiences.
  • Pain: Fear of discomfort during or after a procedure.
  • Needles: Fear of injections.
  • Noise: Fear of the sounds made by dental instruments.
  • Smells: Anxiety triggered by the smells in a dentist’s office.

Symptoms and Causes

Individuals are more likely to develop this phobia if they have:

  • Another phobia
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Substance use disorder

Other Related Phobias

  • Phobias associated with dentophobia include:
  • Algophobia: Fear of pain
  • Emetophobia: Fear of vomiting
  • Haphephobia: Fear of being touched
  • Iatrophobia: Fear of doctors
  • Trypanophobia: Fear of needles

What are the Common Causes?

Possible causes include:

  • Family History: Genetic predisposition to anxiety.
  • Embarrassment: Feeling uncomfortable with the dentist’s proximity.
  • Helplessness: Loss of control while lying in the dental chair.
  • Modeling: Learning the fear from others.
  • Past Negative Experiences: Traumatic dental experiences.
  • Traumatic History: History of abuse.

Management and Treatment Options include:

  • Exposure Therapy: Gradual exposure to dental settings in a controlled environment.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Changing responses to triggers.
  • Distraction: Using music, movies, or TV shows during treatment.
  • Guided Imagery: Visualization techniques to create a sense of calm.
  • Hypnotherapy: Guided relaxation techniques to change beliefs.
  • Relaxation Techniques: Deep breathing and muscle relaxation.
  • Sedation: Medications to help relax during treatment.

Complications and Well-Being

Untreated dentophobia can lead to poor oral health, which may cause complications such as decayed teeth, gum disease, heart disease, and respiratory infections. It can also affect self-confidence, relationships, and job performance, potentially leading to aggression, low self-esteem, and sleep disorders.

Strategies to Help You Cope

To cope with dental anxiety during a visit:

  • Schedule a consultation with your dentist.
  • Inform your dentist about your anxiety.
  • Bring a friend for support.
  • Choose a dentist who understands this phobia.
  • Establish a signal with your dentist to take breaks if needed.
  • Visit the dentist at less busy times of the day.

Find a Supportive & Understanding Dentist Near You

Find a dentist who understands dentophobia, get recommendations from trusted sources, and schedule a first consultation to discuss your fears. Evaluate if you feel comfortable with the dentist and continue searching if needed to find the right fit.

Lastly, this type of anxiety disorder is actual and can significantly affect your oral and overall health. Seek support from a dental healthcare professional who understands your fears and has experience managing dentophobia effectively.

At Keshavarz Dentistry in Brampton, we can help you overcome dental anxiety if this is your concern. As part of our dental care, we understand that dental phobia exists in some patients and work with you to overcome your fears while ensuring the best oral health.

Is it time for a check-up, dental exam, dental cleaning or dental procedure? We can help.

Contact our dental clinic in Brampton at (905) 791-3867 to book your next appointment. We accept new patients, families, walk-ins and ODSP patients.

Yours in Excellent Oral Health and Stress-Free Dentistry in Brampton.

Dr. F. Keshavarz, DDS

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