How to Overcome Dental Phobia
Dental phobia is an extremely common condition, believed to affect as many as many as 15% of the U.S population. It is also one of the primary reasons why millions of Americans avoid visiting their dentist. Unfortunately, not attending regular check-ups with a dental professional can spell disaster for both your oral and general health. Thankfully, it is possible to overcome dental phobia and reap the benefits of a long-lasting, beautiful and functional smile.
What are the Effects of Dental Phobia?
Unfortunately, many people who suffer from dental phobia do not fully understand the extent of the impact that the condition may have on their health. Our teeth are a vital part of our anatomy. Not only do they help us to bite and chew, they also interact with our tongue to help us form sounds and help to give our face structure and shape.
When you put off going to the dentist, you are increasing the likelihood of developing a variety of dental problems. These can range from mild issues like cavities, to serious complications including advanced periodontitis and tooth loss. Early identification of potential dental problems can dramatically reduce the invasiveness of the treatment that is required, and the impact that treatment has on your bank balance.
Dental health has also been proven to have an effect on our overall health and wellbeing, with poor oral hygiene and bad teeth regularly cited as a contributing factor in the development of many diseases including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
With such a long list of problems associated with poor dental health, it becomes quite evident how important it is to overcome your dental phobia and attend regular appointments with a dentist.
Ways to Overcome Dental Phobia
Thankfully, there are now more ways to overcome dental phobia than ever before. However, it may be necessary to try various therapies to find the one that works best for you.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways to overcome dental phobia:
Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Also known as CBT, cognitive behavior therapy is a process that helps patients to take control over the fears and negative thoughts that become overwhelming when they are faced with their phobia.
Patients who choose CBT therapy are taught to identify the emotions that they feel and the behaviors that they exhibit when the phobia strikes. These could include nausea, shaking or a panic attack. The therapist then works with the patient to turn these into positive behaviors or actions.
If you are unable to arrange for CBT with a trained professional, there are many self-guided CBT resources available online. Alternatively, seek further advice from your GP.
Meditation is another popular way of helping patients overcome dental phobia. This is largely due to the techniques used, which encourage the patient to focus on their breathing, lowering their heart rate and allowing all of the tension to leave their body. In the case of phobias, meditation is particularly useful when used in conjunction with systemic de-sensitization. During this common phobia-relieving therapy, the patient has the opportunity to talk about their fears, placing them into a logical order based on the level of fear or anxiety that they incite. They can then begin a program of gradual exposure to their phobia, which makes it much more manageable to overcome.
Many dentists recognize exactly how difficult it can be for people to overcome dental phobia, but they still want to help their patients enjoy the best dental health possible. For this reason, an increasing number of dental professionals are now able to offer sedation dentistry services.
Sedation dentistry provides patients with the ability to withstand even the most invasive dental procedures, but making sure that they are calm, relaxed and unaware during their treatment. There are different levels of sedation available, from mild sedation administered via laughing gas, to heavy, IV sedation. Which is right for you will depend on your medical history and the type of dental work that you require, and will be discussed with you ahead of your procedure.
Schedule an Appointment
If you suffer from dental phobia and are worried about the impact that the condition is having on your dental health, contact and arrange an appointment with our dentist, who will be happy to discuss how they can help you.