July 24, 2020
by Dr. Charles Sutera, FAGD
Dental anxiety is real. And it can have serious health impacts if allowed to interfere with dental care.
Though the exact cause of dental anxiety can vary, the most common is believed to stem from a past bad experience at the dentist. Other causes can include hearing or reading about negative encounters, as well as parental modeling.
Dental phobia (odontophobia and dentophobia) is an intense fear of anything that has to do with the dentist. Anxiety can arise whenever a person just thinks about a dental office, the patient room, dentist, and dental procedures.
People who suffer from dental anxiety often have a difficult time sleeping the night before a dental appointment. The phobia may also cause sufferers to feel physically ill, faint, and/or short of breath.
It’s important for dentists to be prepared and willing to discuss feelings of anxiety with patients and to have processes in place to help patients with high dental anxiety.
Just as dental phobia starts from a negative experience, helping patients overcome dental phobia starts by creating a positive experience for them.
Below are some pointers for helping patients work through dental anxiety:
Finally, remind patients not to saddle themselves with unrealistic expectations that they can overcome dental anxiety with one “good” dental experience. Working through anxieties and phobias takes time.
Let them know that the key with dental anxiety is to make a commitment to move forward and give themselves guilt-free permission to find their own path at their own pace. Every person deserves to be healthy, and a big part of good health starts with the mouth.
About the Author
Dr. Charles Sutera , FAGD, is a doctor of dental medicine, TMJ specialist, board-certified in moderate dental anesthesiology, and renowned for high profile cosmetic dental reconstructions. He is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry and is the founder of his dental practice, Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction.
Interested in contributing to Oral Health Group’s blog? Email email@example.com for more information!