‘Dentophobia’ is a real condition that affects people of all ages and is often caused by a traumatic dental experience. While having a fear of the dentist is often understandable due to a bad experience, it’s undeniable that people who avoid routine dental exams or put off seeing a dentist when they have a problem usually have more restorative dental work done.
Therefore, by allowing their fear of the dentist to get in the way of the routines required for good dental health, they end up spending more time in the dentist’s chair. What’s more, they also have higher dental health costs than those who have a check-up every six months.
What Causes It?
Dentophobia, also known as odontophobia or dental fear/anxiety, is extremely common and affects over 10% of all Australians, with over 30% of people surveyed who don’t see a dentist citing fear as the number 1 reason.
So, what causes it? Dental fear is usually caused by a previous traumatic experience with a dentist. For some, it’s a painful procedure, for others it’s a complication from a procedure, while for others it’s a bad interaction with a dentist, for example, they were cold or uncaring, or even rough or pushy. This should never be the case but, unfortunately, sometimes it is. However, this isn’t something that you’ll ever experience at our North Lake Dental Clinic.
But dental fear isn’t only caused by direct experiences, for some people this intense anxiety and fear is triggered by hearing about someone else’s bad experience or by something they saw on television. It can also be caused by a feeling of helplessness and loss of control (which often triggers anxiety) while in the dental chair, or even embarrassment.
While a fear of dentists and dental treatments is often explainable and may seem entirely reasonable based on an individual’s experiences, neglecting your dental health and putting yourself at risk of cavities, gum disease and discoloured, broken or unsightly teeth, only makes it more likely that you’ll need to see a dentist in the future.
What Can Be Done?
Like all anxieties and phobias, dentophobia can be treated with professional help and if it affects a child, the sooner the fear is addressed the better, not only for their dental health, but also how it enables them to respond to life experiences. If you can still get to a dentist without experiencing an anxiety or panic attack, arriving early and talking to the staff about what the examination or procedure involves can be helpful. This way you’ll know what to expect and you can take the time to calm and compose yourself.
However, if your fear of going to the dentist manifests physically and you just can’t get to a dental clinic even though you require treatment, you should seek professional assistance. There are many psychologists that can work through your fear with you using techniques like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Therapy.
At our North Lakes based Dental Clinic, our friendly dentists provide a welcoming environment that ensures you get professional dental treatment in pleasant surroundings. To make an appointment or learn more about our services, call Mango Hill Dental on 07 3482 2209.