In many places around the world, dental fear is fairly common. Published research from Sweden’s Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg shows that at least 5% of the population exhibit some form of severe dental fear, where they present disturbing behavior to the point that they have to see a therapist for it.
The fear stems from an association with any type of dental problem. But avoiding dental visits only makes the fear worse. It also does nothing good for the dental concerns that need to be attended.
Untreated infections or a broken and discolored tooth can bring serious consequences, physically and emotionally.
So, how can someone overcome this fear?
There are a number of options and the dentist plays heavily into making sure that this is something that a patient can get over.
It’s All In The Mind
For most people, the fear stems from preconceived notions and ideas about going to the dentist. And for someone who has never gone to the dentist’s clinic before, it’s going to be a really important first visit, so it may help if a dentist does not jump into treatments and procedures right away. Talking to the patient can help ease anxiety.
Given that people, dentists especially, do not have the luxury of time to do this with each and every new patient that comes in, it may be necessary to schedule an appointment specifically for a “meet and greet” first.
On this first meeting, the dentist could give the patient a rundown of what tools may be used for the procedures. Some people are afraid of these tools because of the way these look and because of the noise they make. But a dentist can properly explain and demonstrate to the patient why these are needed.
If possible, the dentist may also allow the patient to hold the tools, so that she becomes more familiar with it. But if the fear for these tools still does not appease the patient in succeeding dental visits, it would probably help to have the patient wear earplugs or headphones to drown the noise.
Pain and Discomfort
The fear associated with pain and discomfort may stem from the following:
- having to lie down on an uncomfortable chair
- experiencing gag reflex
- experiencing actual pain
It is unrealistic to expect that there will be no pain and bleeding with some dental procedures, however, the dentist can assure his patient that this can be managed and controlled. Some dentists even advise their patients beforehand by letting them know of possible pain and discomfort that can happen while the procedure is being done. Newer dental clinics, meanwhile, have advanced tools and technology that can help minimize bleeding, pain and discomfort.
The dental chair is adjustable, so a patient should not feel claustrophobic or constricted on it. Perhaps adding a pillow to the back or the head of the patient can also do away with the uneasiness of sitting on a dental chair.
Affable dentists are more likely to be trusted by their patients, according to a study from the European Journal of Oral Science. So choose your dentist carefully. Gather inputs and references from other people who have tried out their expertise.
Meeting the dentist for the first time is stressful, but a nice personality can definitely ease away the anxiety and develop a long-term relationship. As with all types of relationships, the one a patient keeps with her dentists must be pleasant and cordial, aside from being professional. This way, any psychological hindrances can ease up and break down.