- 1 Fear of the Dentist
- 2 Dental treatment phobia – the morbid fear of visiting the dentist
- 3 Causes of dental treatment phobia
- 4 Distressed patients, overstretched doctors
- 5 Tips: anesthesia, hypnosis, psychotherapy – what helps best?
- 6 To circle out of fear and avoidance
- 7 Avoid excessive cost of dentures
- 8 Behavior for doctors
Fear of the Dentist
Many people have great fear of the dentist. The age, the dental status or possible bad experiences in the past play a subordinate role here. Because fear of the dentist is usually irrational. Thus not justified properly by arguments of different experiences. Children who feel that their parents have feared the dentist tend to imitate this behavior and even develop a dentist’s anxiety.
Scientifically, the fear of the dentist is also called dental phobia (dental prosthesis or dental treatment) or dental treatment phobia. It is usually composed of various fears, such as fear of a toothache, fear of injections, fear of dyspnea or gagging in the dental imprint, or fear of loss of control during a general anesthesia in dental practice. The sounds of the dental instruments, such as the drill, also fear many patients of different age.
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In many cases, the doctor’s phobia is accompanied by a handful of money. Many patients are worried about not having to afford the necessary dentures or a complex dental treatment. Here, the dentists and the media, as well as more initiative and self-responsibility on the part of the patients, are needed: knowledge about ways to overcome dental phobia and alternatives to reducing dental prostheses helps to get the dentist to grips with the dentist’s concerns.
Probably everyone feels the cheeky feeling before the dentist’s visit because the treatments are really not so pleasant. But if the fear of a dentist’s make the panic grow spontaneously, it will be dangerous. This is so-called dental treatment phobia, or even dental phobia – the morbid fear of the dentist. Already since 1997, the dental treatment phobia is a psychosomatic illness recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), but the causes are still not completely clarified.
In the European countries, approximately 10% of adults are estimated to suffer from dental phobia. This does not mean the woozy feeling which affects almost everyone at the sight of the treatment chair or the buzzing of the drill. Those affected simply cannot go to the dentist – sometimes for thirty years. In extreme cases, those affected prefer to swallow huge amounts of painkillers and see their teeth as they go to the dentist.
Those affected suffer the pain and the complete deterioration of their teeth – and thus a dramatic loss of quality of life. They hardly dare to laugh or open their mouths out of shame. Nevertheless, they are not taken seriously with their fear. “No one has to be ashamed of his dentist phobia,” accentuates Dr. Michael Leu, President of the German Society for Teeth Care Phobia.
Dental treatment phobia – the morbid fear of visiting the dentist
A dental treatment phobia refers to an overstated, diseased fear of any dental treatment. This anxiety almost always leads to years of avoidance of dental procedures and is often so pronounced that the affected person does not go to the dentist even if it is bitterly necessary. The affected persons are not aware of the fact that severe dental problems, which remain untreated for many years, may even be life-threatening.
The phobia of dentists, as the treatment phobia is also often called, counts as a specific phobia to the group of the simple phobias. Dentist phobia patients differ from patients with “conventional” fear of the visit to the dentist in addition to an extremely high degree of anxiety, especially by the strict avoidance of the dentist’s visit. In doing so, all possible objects and situations associated with the dental treatment can be used as anxiety-triggering. The transition from normal to phobia-like anxiety can be wide-ranging.
Causes of dental treatment phobia
Negative experiences in childhood and traumatic experiences during a dental treatment are frequent but not the sole cause of the dental treatment phobia. The impending loss of self-control and the feeling associated with it can also be factors such as the fear of unknown and unpredictable procedures during a dental treatment. Even narratives from the social environment can lead to differently pronounced dentist anxieties.
In fact, there are still many causes in the dark, and recent research findings also suggest the possibility of a genetic predisposition: traumatic experiences in childhood seem to lead to the permanent over activation of the stress centers in the brain inappropriately assessed people.
Distressed patients, overstretched doctors
Anyone who takes his whole courage is not infrequently experiencing a failure. “The days before a dentist’s appointment are an emotional catastrophe for phobia patients,” Mary J describes her experiences.
Mary J felt like a prisoner for years. “The noise and smells of a dental practice were the hell for me,” says the 44-year-old. “I avoided everything that was connected with it, and I felt completely exhausted.” For 23 years she was not at the dentist, her teeth were in a catastrophic condition despite good care.
Many of them manage to suppress their panic. But a wrong word, a ruthless reaction of the dentist, and the arduously maintained frontage collapses. The patient suffers a panic attack with heart rash, trembling, sweating, and biliousness. “A simple examination of the oral cavity can exceed the limits of the tolerable,” says Dr. Luis Z Wheeler.
Since no psychosomatic fundamentals are taught in dental training, dentists often feel overwhelmed by the violent reactions. Thus, the situation quickly gets out of control: the patient escapes from practice and avoids the situation for many more years. “We dentists are basically craftsmen,” says Dr. Luis Z Wheeler. “Only a few have a sense of how the patient is going and choose their words so that the physical reactions are soothing.”
Tips: anesthesia, hypnosis, psychotherapy – what helps best?
In order to allow particularly anxious patients to relax during treatment, dentists use various procedures – from empathic care and relaxation exercises to medical hypnosis and acupuncture to sedative and narcotic drugs.
In the treatment of phthisis, behavioral therapy, which is usually paid by the health insurance company, can also make sense. In the course of this therapy, affected patients learn strategies to control anxiety so that treatment at the dentist is again possible (70% success). In the end, anxiety as a psychological illness can only be improved or cured sustainably only by means of psycho therapeutic therapy approaches.
But until patients can benefit from these diverse possibilities, dentist phobic must take some hurdles. “For many, it is already a great overcoming to find out about the existing possibilities,” explains Mary J, who has already consulted the affected persons – including patients from Australia – and is a member of the USA Society for Teeth Care Fear. “Some take years to trust in a phobia patient counseling office.” In many conversations, she tries to gradually build up confidence in patients.
To circle out of fear and avoidance
Anyone who is afraid of the dentist often neglects his teeth at the same time – which makes the whole thing even worse. So-called anxiety patients often postpone dental procedures for a long time or do not dare to consult the dentist for the recommended annual screening. In many cases, dental problems are displaced, because even the thought of a harmless tooth cleaning makes the fear revive.
The result is, unfortunately, that many people just because of their dentist anxious with a toothache or gaps in the bite. In many cases the complaints are hidden, the sufferers suffer silently to themselves and feel helplessly helpless. This devil circle has to be broken – the best is to tackle the problems resolutely. This includes, on the one hand, a thorough dental examination and diagnosis and, on the other hand, a reasonable, affordable treatment plan that is as pain-free as possible for the patient.
According to experience, the fear of the dentist can be minimized if a trusted companion is involved and there is a good relationship of trust with the treating physician. Through detailed and sensitive counseling and enlightenment discussions as well as corresponding treatment methods, the dentist can make the patient’s unpleasant procedures easier. A digital oral scan is less stressful than a conventional denture impression with impression material; an alternative to general anesthesia is the so-called sleep. Another tip is to visit a dentist who specializes in anxiety patients. In many cases, such specialists work with music, hypnosis or other relaxation methods to ensure a fear-free treatment.
Avoid excessive cost of dentures
Against the fear of the dentist and too high denture costs, of course, no relaxation training helps, but only good planning and calculation. In order to reduce the share of your own, it is a good idea to save on laboratory costs, for example, by ordering significantly cheaper dental prostheses from abroad. This is not a problem for the health insurance companies, and even the needy dependent fixed allowance for cash patients remains the same when using foreign dental support – only your own proportion is considerably reduced. Only if trust can be established, the patients will be in a position to arrange an appointment with the dentist. In the initial discussion, his sensitivity is particularly required.
Behavior for doctors
The following simple behavioral rules can be used by doctors to help their patients.
Like any other physician, the dentist should be informed about what he is doing before the treatment, and before each treatment step, he will announce what will happen next. In this way, it is possible to avoid being frightened during the treatment, such as when the drill is switched on. Make a “stop signal” for the patient if it becomes too painful or unpleasant. This can also be a good way of preventing the situation from being helpless.
Shorten the time of suffering
In many patients, the time of suffering reaches the first climax in the waiting room: here, dentists can avoid an all-too-ambitious ambiance and offer diversions, for example, through magazines, music or television. Specialized dentists offer music and films in the waiting room, but also during the dental treatment.
Pain and calming agents
For many anxious patients, analgesics are a help. Here, the greatest possible sensitivity is required to keep the balance between inappropriate and sensible administration. Even if some would get through the treatment without them, the desire for pain-relieving remedies should be met.
Even if it sounds exaggerated by the treated physician showing sympathy, he can take the patient’s fears. By regularly asking during the treatment whether it is tolerable to the patient, he shows that he takes the fears seriously and brings such looseness into the tense situation.
To know more about the ultimate tips to overcome the “Fear of the Dentist” you may visit “7 Tips on how to defeat the fear of dentist”.