Regardless of modern technologies and advancements, anaesthesia and methods, many people still have a deeply rooted fear of the dentist’s office. This fear can be known as dental phobia, odontophobia, dentophobia, dentist phobia, and dental anxiety. But don’t panic! This guide covers the common misconceptions about dental treatments and how you can overcome your fear.
The idea that your dentist is a cruel sadist out to get you is a stereotype that continues to be perpetuated by the media. Think Finding Nemo. This just makes it even more difficult for those with fears of dentists and doctors to get over them.
This is exacerbated by the fact that problems with mouth or oral health are usually more easily ignored than your general health issues. People would rather use numbing creams to mask pain and avoid certain foods rather than get to the bottom of the issue. When you feel that something is wrong with your oral health, it’s tempting to try and let it heal on its own, but you’re taking a gamble – your mouth health could continue to decline instead.
You should visit your dentist for a checkup the moment you notice something isn’t right, instead of putting it off and hoping the problem will solve itself, but for some people this is easier said than done. The fear of the dentist’s chair is real, and some will go years without ever stepping foot in a dentist’s office. However, left unchecked, your oral health will slowly deteriorate, and plaque and gum disease will take hold.
When you don’t take care of your oral health the way you take care of your general health, serious issues develop, and it’s only these that will require the surgery so many people fear. In the end, you only end up hurting yourself. In the text below, we’ll explore the issue of why people fear the dentist, and we will also try to help you find ways to overcome this fear.
Why do people fear the dentist?
There are numerous reasons why people fear going to the dentist, including:
- Incompetence (on the part of the dentist)It’s true. There are some dentists who get themselves a degree, set up their office and earn a living, but their dental work is sloppy. Or, more plausibly, they simply can’t be bothered to do a good job. We’ve all met those people who hate their jobs; it’s not unreasonable to think that a dentist, although a medical professional, is not exempted from this rule.Undue pain at the dentist’s office could be due to a lot of things: your dentist was rushing; she was having a bad day, or maybe just tired and ready to get off work. A good dentist will go through a procedure without you ever noticing that he or she is doing something dangerous and/or painful, so if you’re uncomfortable with your dentist, it’s time to start looking for a new one.
- The Sound
Some people fear the sound that the dentist’s drill makes while he or she is operating. This may be a fear that took root while you were young and dentist’s tools were scarier. As an adult, it’s time to realize that the sound is just that – a sound, and that in no way should you relate it to painful procedures. That’s what anaesthetics are for.
- The Pain
This reason is more logical; it’s in our nature to fear pain or, at the very least, it’s certainly not something the average person looks forward to. However, if you experienced pain while you were at the dentist, even just once, it could be enough to put you off of dentists for a long time to come. If your condition was not too serious or it was just a dental check-up, we can blame this on sloppy dental work. It isn’t normal to feel undue amounts of pain at the dentist, so if your dentist is truly making you uncomfortable with each visit, it may be time to switch to another dentist.
Technology and medicine have made incredible advancements in the last few decades. Those archaic notions of the dentist’s office looking more like a torture chamber than a medical facility are unfounded. This old-fashioned belief is still deeply-rooted in some people, and is the cause of many dentistry-related fears.
How can I overcome my fear of dentists?
Well, the first and most obvious solution would be to find yourself a good, competent and qualified dentist who knows what he’s doing. This professional should, apart from all the qualities mentioned above, be kind and understanding. Their office should also be welcoming, a place where you can really relax.
Their knowledge of general dentistry should be vast and they should be able to explain to you, in terms you can understand, what the problem is and what needs to be done about it, both in the dentist office and at home.
When you find the right dentist for you, you’ll soon come to realize that there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place.
Of course, if your fear is so great that you are having nightmares about an upcoming appointment, you should talk to a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Dental fear is a well-established condition and there are, likewise, established ways of treating it.
Finally, if all else fails, there is always the option of having your dental procedures under full sedation or general anaesthesia. It’s uncommon, but not unheard of, and it happens in extreme cases, when the fear itself or the fear of the pain is so great that the patient won’t even go near a dentist’s office.
The best thing anyone can do for their oral health is to have regular check-ups and maintain at home: brush, floss, rinse – you know the drill. This way, you’ll avoid costly procedures and invasive surgeries, and never have any reason to fear going to the dentist for the occasional check-up. These days, there’s nothing to fear anyway. With modern anaesthesia, procedures and methods, you’ll barely feel a thing.
Need more assurance? Get in touch with our friendly staff to book an appointment today.