Regular dental visits are extremely crucial since they help prevent oral diseases and improve your overall quality of life. But even a small visit can be quite challenging, due to concerns like anxiety and fear. Fear of visiting a dentist has been clinically termed odontophobia (“odonto” means tooth, and “phobia” means fear).
A Memphis, TN dentist, and his team are highly experienced in handling patients who suffer from odontophobia through counseling and creating a friendly clinical atmosphere.
Understanding dental anxiety and fear
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder that leads to excessive fear of an event or situation that is not actually harmful. Dental anxiety and fear are clinically termed odontophobia. This phobia can escalate during almost every dental visit.
Odontophobia can occur irrespective of counseling or repeated efforts to make you feel comfortable and relaxed. This can end up making you avoid the dentist altogether, which could negatively affect your oral health.
Factors that contribute to dental anxiety and fear
The following factors can significantly trigger anxiety and fear during your dental visit:
- Negative feelings associated with your dentist.
- Hearing someone else discuss their dental fear can trigger the same fear in you.
- Fear of needles during the administration of anesthesia.
- Fear of blood (hemophobia) during dental procedures like extractions.
- Dental instruments like fillers, scalers, or drills could instill fear in you.
- Fear of persistent pain and discomfort
- Sound or noise produced by drills and dental instruments.
- Unpleasant smells from dental materials (cements, bonding agents, disinfectants) can spark a sense of anxiety
Coping tips for dental anxiety and fear
There are several tips that can help you cope with odontophobia. These include:
- Inform your dentist about your fears and keep them in the loop so that your dentist can manage your fears effectively.
- Ask a friend or a loved one to accompany you during your dental visits.
- Visit your dentist during a time when the clinic is less busy, preferably during the morning hours. This ensures less noise from other dental instruments and machines.
- Ask your dentist for throat sprays to prevent gagging
- Carry noise-blocking headphones, earbuds, or earphones with music to help you calm down.
- Practice deep breathing techniques to lower your anxiety levels.
If these tips fail, then your dentist may suggest sedation through appropriate drugs to make you feel more relaxed.
Odontophobia is real, and there are several methods available to cope with it. However, it requires patience and consistency to gradually win over your anxiety. Overcoming your fear can positively impact your overall health and well-being.