Conquering Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia
Why Regular Checkups are so Important
Seeing your dentist for regular checkups is necessary in order to avoid potentially hazardous oral conditions such as tooth decay and gum disease. Regular dental exams also provide early cancer screening, which could save your life.
It’s also important to visit your dentist at least twice a year to protect yourself against diseases and infections that occur throughout your body. For example, gum disease has been linked to the following ailments:
- Lung disease
- Premature childbirth
- Heart disease
How Common are Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia?
According to Peter Milgrom, author of the book Treating Fearful Dental Patients:
Between 5 and 8 percent of Americans refuse to seek care from a dental professional due to some degree of fear.
Milgrom also tells us that up to 20 percent of patients will only go to the dentist when the condition of their teeth forces them to.
The Difference Between Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia
The symptoms of dental anxiety aren’t as intense as dental phobia, but both conditions can cause a patient to avoid getting necessary dental care. Dental anxiety produces “exaggerated or unfounded fears” about visiting a dentist.
Dental phobia can be so acute that it causes patients to feel “terrified or panic stricken” at the thought of going to the dentist.
How to Counteract Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia
It takes a combined effort by both doctors and patients to effectively counteract the effects of dental anxiety. That’s why it’s important for dentists to provide a warm and relaxed environment for all their patients.
These strategies can help alleviate stress for patients who may be suffering from dental anxiety or dental phobia:
- Don’t criticize patients for the condition of their teeth.
- Use positive verbal reinforcement with patients.
- Speak in a soft and non threatening manner.
- Don’t use aggressive body language.
- Have a friendly meeting with patients in your office before an appointment.
- Allow for frequent breaks during treatment.
- Inform patients in advance about the type of treatment they will be receiving.
What Patients Can Do
There are approaches such as breathing exercises that patients can employ to reduce their level of anxiety. If you look up relaxation breathing techniques in a search engine, you will find several articles and videos like this one that can be very helpful.
Patients might also wish to seek out the services of a mental health professional to treat their dental anxiety or dental phobia. Some of the more common techniques employed by counselors to combat these conditions include:
- Systematic desensitization
- Breathing exercises
Your Friendly Pee Dee Dentist
At Advanced Dental Center in Florence, we provide a warm and gentle atmosphere for all our patients. So why not give us a call to schedule your next checkup today?