Dentophobia: What Is It and Can You Treat It?June 17, 2023
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Have you ever heard of dentophobia? Visiting a dentist is what many people find scary. But there are those who experience these emotions on a whole new level. And it is something that can affect anyone.
Of course, children are often afraid of dentists since they don’t know what to expect. Dentists with enough experience will know how to talk to kids, and pediatric dentistry is a great way to avoid any type of problem. But what happens if the situation is too serious?
Is there a way to fight dentophobia? And what are some of the most important things you should learn about this fear? Here is all you need to learn about it.
Dentophobia is a term used to describe a fear of dentists and dental procedures. Of course, many people dislike dentists. The entire experience is far from pleasurable. But having anxiety and a feeling of dread is what makes it different.
As you probably know, phobias are anxiety disorders. And when it comes to dentists (or dentophobia), people will experience extreme fear when they need to go to the dentist. It is not rare for people to postpone an appointment even though they are in pain.
For them, avoiding the situation is the only way to deal with anxiety and fear, and it can have terrible consequences.
Many people experience some levels of anxiety when visiting a dentist. And that’s perfectly normal. But dentophobia is an excessive fear. People with this condition refuse to see a dentist regardless of how intense the pain will get.
And naturally, it will have a negative effect on their oral health. Additionally, having bad teeth can affect every single sphere of your life. You will struggle with everyday activities such as eating, and it will reflect on your self-esteem.
People will also experience issues with relationships and business opportunities. And it can be quite challenging. And this is the main difference between the two. People that are afraid of dentists will still worry, they will experience anxiety, but in the end, they will still go to the dentist.
It is worth noting that people might experience the phobia in different ways. And each individual might have their own way of expressing the fear. However, there are a couple of general pointers.
One of the things almost everyone with dentophobia will experience is an emotional response. They will go through extreme fear, anxiety, and even panic. The feeling will often prevent them from visiting the dentist in the first place, and the situation can only get worse.
Additionally, they might experience increased heart rate, sweating, loss of breath, shaking, nausea, and so on. People might also get agitated or even aggressive when pushed to visit a dentist, and they will try so hard to avoid doing it.
Dentophobia is not related to age, but there are people who are at higher risk of experiencing this condition. Mainly, people who suffer from another phobia, or have any type of anxiety disorder.
Furthermore, people who had some experience with panic disorders (and panic attacks) are also more likely to have a fear of dentists. Finally, dentophobia is quite common among people who had experience with substance abuse.
Now, it doesn’t mean that everyone who experienced anxiety attacks or had a history with substances will go through dentophobia. But it will increase the chances of this condition developing at some point.
Dentophobia is also associated with other fears such as algophobia (which is a fear of pain), emetophobia (which is a fear of vomiting), latrophobia (or fear of doctors), haphephobia (or fear of being touched), trypanophobia (or fear of needless), and so on.
So, it is more than obvious how any of these phobias can trigger dentophobia as well. And why some people would be afraid of dentists.
It is still difficult to determine what causes phobias. There are so many factors that may contribute to it, and it is far from easy to pinpoint the specific trigger. Among the factors that might cause dentophobia are: family history, embarrassment, previous experiences, and so on. Here’s the tips to find the perfect dentist.
For example, one might feel embarrassed about the condition of their teeth, and it will prevent them from visiting the dentist even though it will make the situation even worse. Needless to say, having a bad experience in the past will obviously make it challenging for a person to visit a dentist again.
As for the triggers, being in a dental office is one of the most common triggers. Others include seeing (or hearing) dental instruments, being in a dentist’s chair, thinking about dentists, scheduling an appointment, and so on.
One of the best ways to treat dentophobia is exposure therapy. What this means is that the person will sit in a controlled environment, and get exposed to images and situations they are afraid of.
In this case, they will be exposed to dentists, dental equipment, and similar. This way, a mental health professional will be able to see symptoms and reactions and work together with the patient to make it a bit easier.
Talk therapy can be quite successful for people with phobias, and allow people to overcome their phobias. The process is quite simple. The mental health professional will help the patient learn various breathing techniques and ways to relax.
They will learn how to do it both before and after the exposure. Eventually, they will be able to progress and visit a dentist. Some people also suggest that acupuncture, hypnotherapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy might be helpful as well, but it all comes down to a specific case.