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A guide to Dental Phobia

Many people feel paralysed at the thought of visiting their dentist. It is not simply a case that they are worried about the pain. It’s much more than that. Dental phobia can result in anxiety, panic attacks, difficult breathing, nausea and fainting. And that’s before we’ve even considered the impact that avoiding your dentist can have on your oral health.

One of the biggest issues surrounding dental phobia is that is can be a very isolating condition. Sufferers feel nervous and embarrassed, especially if their teeth are in poor condition. Very often, they also find it difficult to talk to someone about it, as they worry that people such as doctors and dentists will not appreciate how severe dental phobia can become.

Fortunately, most people who are brave enough to face up to their dental phobia now have a much different experience. Rather than finding that dentists and doctors are unsympathetic or lacking expertise in dealing with the condition, you are far more likely to discover that dental phobias are very common. In fact, thinking about how to treat dental phobic patients is now a standard part of dental training.

What sort of techniques, technologies and approaches can dentists deploy to help treat dental phobic patients? There are a number of tactics that dentists can use, although a great deal will depend on what kind of phobia the patient has. The term ‘dental phobia’ is actually used to describe a wide range of fears that centre around the dental experience. For example, some patients are phobic about pain. Other patients can be phobic about being under anaesthetic. Other can have a fear of choking or a fear of the dental drill. All of these types of fears are usually included under the umbrella of ‘dental phobia’.

Therefore, most dentists will usually treat each case on its own merits. What has been acknowledged by the dental profession is that an important element in treating dental phobia patients is how successfully the dentist can build up a relationship of trust with the patient. If this trust can be developed, then that can form the basis for treatment in the future.

If you suffer from dental phobia, your dentist will usually recommend following a process like this. First of all, you should benefit from a consultation. Ideally, this should not include dental work. It should simply be a conversation with your dentist where you can outline your fears and your dentist can begin to work out the best way to treat you.

Once your dentist has a clear understanding of the nature of your condition, it is much easier for them to consider how you could be treated. For some mild cases of dental phobia, it could simply be a case of your dentists altering their ‘chairside manner’. It could be that they can explain treatments to you more fully and take more time to ensure that you are comfortable with what they are about to do. They may even use some simple distraction techniques to enable you to relax more fully during treatment.

Many people who avoid visiting their dentist do not realise how much the dental industry has evolved. Dentists now have a broader range of products and treatments at their disposal. Drills are quieter and less intimidating, needles less painful. Dentists themselves are better trained and many dental practices are much warmer, welcoming, patient-friendly places.

Of course, some phobias are deeply ingrained. In these sorts of cases, it could be worth considering more carefully your choice of dentist. There are many practices available nowadays in the UK that specialise in treating dental phobic patients. Their dentists are specially trained and they use the latest technology to offer a ‘pain free’ approach to dentistry. For example, they may offer to treat you while under light sedation, which many phobic patients find acceptable.

If you are dental phobic, the chances are that you will be avoiding a visit to your dentist. This, in turn, means that your teeth and oral health will be deteriorating. Therefore, it is important that you start rebuilding a relationship of trust with your dentist. If you can be open and honest about your fears, then your dentist will be able to find a way to ensure that you get the treatment you need.

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