Dental phobia and anxiety is a universal phenomenon. In the US alone, about 9% to 20% of Americans suffer from this condition. People who suffer from dental phobia are aware that their behavior is irrational but they cannot do anything about it. The only time they visit the dentist is when they feel such extreme pain, that they have no other choice but to submit themselves to the necessary procedure, however anxious they may be.
People with this condition will do everything just to avoid a visit to the dentist. This phobia usually starts during childhood, and carries over to adulthood. There are various reasons for having dental phobia and anxiety:
1. Fear of Injections: A lot of people are scared of needles, especially when injected into any tender part of their body, such as the mouth. Furthermore, this fear is compounded by the thought that the anesthesia might not work, or that the dosage is not enough to numb the pain before the procedure starts.
2. Fear of Pain: This is the most common reason people fear going to the dentist. This fear usually develops early due to “dental horror stories” as depicted in movies, or as told by other people. It can also be due to a painful experience in the dental office that resulted in an unpleasant memory. Thankfully, modern dentistry now uses advanced tools that significantly reduce pain.
3. Fear of Side Effects of Anesthesia: Some people fear that the anesthesia can make them feel dizzy, faint, or nauseous. Some do not like the fat lip, or numbness caused by anesthesia.
4. Fear of Being Helpless or Not Being in Control: There are people who always want to be in control, and thus do not like feeling helpless. Sitting in a dental chair with oneâs mouth wide open, and unable to see what is going on, makes some people nervous, and therefore afraid of dental visits.
5. Fear of Embarrassment and of Personal Space Getting Invaded: For some, the dentist getting too close to their face makes them uncomfortable. They feel as if someone else is invading their personal space. Still others are self-conscious due to the way their teeth look, and any possible mouth odors they may have.
Symptoms of Dental Phobia and Anxiety
In some rare cases, this condition may require a psychiatric consultation. Below are the signs of dental phobia:
1. Unable to sleep or having trouble sleeping the night before the dental consultation.
2. Feeling nervous and apprehensive when inside the dental clinic.
3. Feeling ill, or crying when told to visit the dentist.
4. Feeling uneasy, or having difficulty breathing, because dental tools are actually placed inside the mouth (or even feeling uneasy of the thought of such).
It is best to discuss your fear with your dentist, so that they can find ways to make your experience more comfortable. Another option is to find a dentist who offers sedation dentistry in Burke, VA, and use them as resource when needed.