dentist talking to patient in chair

Dental Phobia: What You Need to Know

TeamGeneral Dentistry, Sedation Dentistry

Many people fear going to the dentist for one reason or another. For some, this fear is mild and breeds only a small amount of anxiety. For others, it can be severe, leading to risky oral health and overall physical health. 

Dental phobia - more formally referred to as dentophobia - affects many people. Those who struggle with it often avoid the dentist no matter how painful a dental issue or how badly it is impacting their quality of life.  

Here is what you need to know. 

The Specific Fears of Dental Phobia

Dental phobia is not one type of fear. Most patients do not fear the dentist in general, but rather certain aspects of the dental experience. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common dental fears that lead to dental phobia. 

Needles. Many people have fears of needles - something that is found in both medical and dental offices. With the numbing injection for local anesthesia that is often used, this can be a trigger for some. 

Choking or Inability to Breathe. Local anesthesia can cause weird sensations throughout the face, including the mouth, nose, and throat. Couple this with dental tools and such being in the mouth, and some patients feel as though they are going to choke or can’t breathe - often resulting in panic. 

Pain. Most people don’t like pain, but for some, feeling pain can be a very real fear. Those who have experienced pain in the past are afraid it may happen again - despite the advancements in dental procedures that are relatively pain-free. 

Sensory Fears. A trip to the dentist comes with a lot of different sounds, sights, and smells that you don’t find everywhere else. Associating these things with a bad experience in the past can trigger fears. For instance, many patients will tell you that the sound of the dental tools used in treatments can instantly spark anxiety. 

Why Dental Phobias Need to Be Addressed

Dental phobias can cause a lot of problems for those who don’t find ways to push through it. Many patients will tell you that the feeling of fear is so strong that they simply cannot make their appointment. First, they cancel a cleaning, then a second cleaning, then a third. Before they realize it, it has been years since they have seen a dentist. 

It is not uncommon for individuals to end up with severe tooth decay, gum disease, abscesses, and more all due to the fear of going to the dentist. As a result, when the dental visit finally happens, it usually includes more invasive - and expensive - procedures. 

Dental disease can wreak havoc on your teeth,  your gums, and your jawbone. It can also be very isolating, negatively impact your quality of life, and lead to physical health concerns, too. 

How to Cope with Dental Phobia

Because dental concerns need to be addressed whether a phobia is present or not, there must be ways to cope with it. Thankfully, there are so many options available today to make that happen.

Dentists have started to incorporate soothing and serene surroundings, allowing the patient to feel calm. Some even provide warm blankets, calming music, television, and more. They want to do what they can so you are relaxed. 

Sedation dentistry plays a huge role in coping with phobias. From prescribing anti-anxiety medication to nitrous oxide to moderate conscious sedation to IV sedation and general anesthesia. There is a way for patients to get their dental procedures taken care of while feeling free of fear. 

It is important to be open with your dentist about any fears or phobias you may have. Your dental team wants you to have a healthy mouth -- and they will put steps in place to make you as comfortable as possible. 

Comfortable Dental Care at Total Dental Care

From our state-of-the-art technology to our wide range of sedation dentistry options and everything in between, the entire team at Total Dental Care works hard to help you through your fears. 

Help us understand what has you anxious so that we may help you. 

If you have any fears or concerns about your dental appointment, call our office at 240-813-9111 . Or, request an appointment online.