Many people are afraid to go to the dentist and avoid it whenever they can. In fact, around 60 percent of the population fits into this category. Dental phobia is something more than simple fear or anxiety. People with dental phobia are terrified of going to the dentist, and while they probably realize that this fear is irrational, they need help to overcome it.
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Experts estimate that up to 10 percent of people have dental phobia. This condition can be dangerous because victims of it often suffer from serious and painful dental problems. They may have numerous oral infections, unnecessarily loose teeth, and developing gum disease. Fortunately, if you have this condition, you can find help to control it.
Symptoms of Dental Phobia
If you have dental phobia, you may experience insomnia before an appointment, become physically ill when you consider seeing the dentist, or even experience difficulty breathing, particularly when something is inserted into your mouth. You may even cry or break out into a sweat while in the dentist's office. This type of extreme reaction is a good sign that your level of anxiety is not normal and requires intervention.
Causes of Dental Phobia
If you have certain mental conditions, you are more likely to experience dental phobia. For instance, those with claustrophobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder often find going to the dentist terrifying.
If you have had a bad dental experience, you may also develop a dental phobia. In addition, trust issues, fear of pain, and previous head and neck injuries can make you quite fearful of the dentist.
Coping with Dental Phobia
You can learn to ease your terror of dental treatment. Choose a dentist who makes you feel comfortable. Dental clinics are patient-oriented - like Main Street Dental - and make every effort to make your experience less stressful. Once you have chosen a dentist, consider using some of the following coping techniques:
Make a consultation-only appointment - Discuss your fear issues with the dentist without the pressure of an imminent procedure. Main Street Dental offers a free exam and x-rays to every new patient. That includes a complimentary consultation.
Practice deep breathing - This simple but effective exercise works before the appointment and even during it if you become upset.
Use meditation - You can learn meditation from a teacher or a DIY site, and it is effective for many people.
Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation - This practice has long helped people who are tense. Start at your toes and work your way up, relaxing each muscle as you go.
Listen to music - You may find that a distraction such as your favorite playlist can help keep you calm.
Try hypnosis - You may need outside help to ease your phobia. Hypnosis does help people cope with many different fears.
Seek counseling - Seeing a counselor can help you understand the causes of your phobia so that you can address them.
Receive medication - Your dentist may decide to treat you with relative sedation (happy gas), conscious sedation (twilight sleep) or general anesthesia. In some cases, you may be prescribed anxiety medication.
Main Street Dental Clinics
In Minnesota, you can find skilled and empathetic dentists at Main Street Dental Clinics. They understand that your condition is different from common dental anxiety and make every effort to put you at ease. The staff will work with you until you are comfortable with the procedure. You will be treated with respect and compassion so that you can get the dental treatment that you need.
Do not be ashamed of your dental phobia. You can find ways to ease your fears and visit the dentist regularly.