A large percentage of adults experience some amount of fear when visiting a Greenville, NC dentist, but a small percentage of people have a strong enough fear to be considered having a phobia. Those patients experience fear so strongly that they avoid dental visits at all costs, which is very bad for their overall health. Sufferers need to understand their phobia and know there are ways to overcome the fear.
Dental Fear: Causes, How to Deal With, and Consequences
Causes of Dental Fear
Several terms are used to classify this phobia. It can be known as dental fear, dental anxiety, dentist phobia, odontophobia, or dentophobia. An intense fear of visiting the dentist for even the simplest dental care. Patients who experience dental fear do so because of prior traumatic experiences at the dentist.
These experiences can include complications from a procedure or painful procedures. If an individual receives oral care from a dentist that was rough, uncaring, or treats you without empathy, the experience could result in increased fear.
Bad experiences aren’t the only ways in which a dental fear could arise. One way in which someone could obtain a fear of the dentist is by hearing about someone else’s bad traumatic experience.
How to Deal with Dental Fear
Treatment for dental fear can range from behavioral techniques to medications. Some dentists help patients to overcome the fear through gentle dentistry and explaining the procedures in a calming way to reduce the fear of the unknown.
Positive reinforcement is another technique that may be used to overcome dental fear. Praising and supporting the patient after a successful appointment can build confidence and help diminish the fear.
Relaxation methods can be used to reduce fear. Deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and positive imagery can help patients relax while in the care of a dentist.
The use of certain medications can vary from mild sedatives to general anesthesia. Dentists often use laughing gas to help calm a nervous patient. Using these methods, a patient can receive dental care regardless of fear. It also allows the patient to be fully responsive, alert, and able to speak with the dentist.
Finding the Right Dentist
Doing the proper research into finding a dentist you are comfortable with will help greatly reduce anxiety. If the patient feels a sense of trust in the chosen dentist, they will find it easier to receive regular dental visits. Patients can also request a dental consultation prior to having work done.
Stress balls are great. They can be squeezed in times of heightened fear or anxiety. Having a support system also helps reduce fear, and bringing a trusted friend or family member to the appointment is another helpful way to reduce dental fear.
Consequences of Avoiding Dental Care
Risk of Contracting More Illnesses
If the bacteria are released into the mouth, there is a chance that they could cause chronic illnesses. The buildup of germs in the mouth signals an imminent problem. Gum disease increases the risk of cardiac issues in patients, including heart attacks. Moreover, the likelihood of developing respiratory issues, dementia, erectile dysfunction, and diabetes complications is raised.
Tooth Loss and Excruciating Toothaches
Untreated teeth will eventually worsen and become painful over time. Whenever the pain is severe enough, it will be clear that you will need a more intrusive procedure, such as a root canal or tooth extraction.
If the gum infections are not treated, the inflammation caused by the infection can separate the teeth, making them extremely loose to the point of coming out.
Stained Teeth and Oral Cancer
Smoking, alcohol consumption, and UV radiation exposure are just a few risk factors that could contribute to oral cancer. According to research, almost 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with oral cancer each year.
To avoid the risks and effects of subpar dental care, think about scheduling a routine oral cancer screening. Keeping your teeth clean is made easier with routine dental visits. Due to the porous nature of our teeth, stains can develop over time, which is a regular occurrence for people who enjoy drinking red wine, coffee, or tea.
Along the gum line, bacteria and plaque frequently accumulate and can irritate the gums as well as the roots of teeth. Gum disease can result in bleeding gums, loose teeth, the appearance of elongated teeth, and other catastrophic consequences.
If you don't care for your mouth, dangerous germs will stick to your teeth and gums and cause serious harm. According to studies, bacteria can thrive, increase, and become out of balance in the mouth, endangering the enamel.
There is no alternative technique to restore damaged enamel after it has been compromised. Too much tooth decay can leave a tooth with a large hole that cannot be healed by fillings alone, making it susceptible to more decay.
How to Make Dental Care Easier
Flossing helps remove plaque on and around your gum line and should be performed at least daily. When flossing, gently work the dental floss up and down between each tooth. Do not subjugate your gums to harsh flossing procedures; instead, use a gentle hand and waxed dental floss to help protect your gums.
Avoid eating too many foods containing acids and sugar. Steer clear of foods that might damage your teeth in any way, including staining them. If you consume foods like these, eat them with your meal and a lot of water.
Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day to prevent further damage. Ideally, it would help if you brushed your teeth after every meal. If doing so is not an option, make sure you at least brush after waking up and then again before going to bed. Regularly brushing your teeth is one of the easiest ways to prevent tooth decay.
Make certain your tongue gets a good brushing! Many people forget to brush their tongue, but cleaning your tongue will help you keep your entire mouth cleaner. Your tongue is full of bacteria. Unless these unwanted visitors are removed, they may spread in the mouth, resulting in stinky breath.
If you visit a dentist for the first time, think about how the experience was after your appointment is over. It is never too late to switch if you are not comfortable. Factors like how nice the staff was to you and how clean the office was should all be considered.
Dentists don't just keep your smile beautiful. They can save your life! Just by examining your mouth, oral health care professionals are trained to look for tell-tale signs of certain diseases like cancer. Visit your dentist regularly for a quick cleaning and an expert once-over that could pay off very big for you.
What Is the Role of Dental Professionals in Managing Dental Fear?
Many people have dental anxiety or fear, which frequently keeps them from getting dental care. Yet, dental practitioners play important roles in treating dental fear and assisting patients in overcoming their phobias. These are some ways dental specialists can be of assistance:
- Provide a friendly atmosphere: A warm, welcoming, and tranquil environment can significantly reduce a patient's anxiety. The dentist can create a relaxing environment by utilizing tranquil hues, relaxing music, and cozy chairs.
- Good communication: Dental professionals should take the time to explain the operation they will be doing to their patients, address any concerns, and answer any questions they may have. The patient will feel more informed and in charge, which might lessen anxiety.
- Using gentle techniques and equipment: They can also employ sedation dentistry and numbing medications to lessen any pain or discomfort.
- Education: This can help patients feel more in control of their dental health and less frightened about going to the dentist by educating them about oral health, correct dental care, and the advantages of routine dental exams.
- Referral to specialists: If a patient has a particularly intense fear of the dentist, the dentist may send them to a specialist with experience treating dental anxiety.
- Behavioral treatments: Treatments like diversion strategies or relaxation exercises can assist patients in managing their anxiety. For instance, they might advise the patient to watch a movie or listen to music while the treatment is going on to assist them in forgetting what is going on.
- Desensitization therapy: Dental experts occasionally employ this technique to assist patients in overcoming their fear. This entails progressively introducing the patient to the dental office and its treatments in a safe and regulated manner, increasing their tolerance over time.
- Empathy and understanding: It's possible that one of the most crucial things dentists can do is to demonstrate empathy and compassion for their patients' worries. Dental professionals can establish trust and make their patients feel more at ease by addressing their worries and fears.
Dental practitioners can also offer individualized care that caters to the needs of each patient. For instance, they could slow down the process so the patient can take breaks.
Last but not least, dental professionals can offer follow-up care after a procedure to see how the patient is doing and ensure they are healing properly. Patients may feel more supported and cared for as a result, which may lessen their worry about subsequent appointments.
See a Greenville, NC Dentist for More Tips About Dental Fear
Dental professionals can significantly reduce patient anxiety by establishing a friendly environment, talking clearly with patients, employing gentle procedures, educating patients, and making appropriate referrals to specialists. Together, dental professionals and patients can conquer dental anxiety and ensure everyone gets the dental care they require.
Schedule an appointment with us if you want to keep your smile healthy!