Nope, No, Never: How Dentophobia Can Affect Our Health

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March 10, 2020
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Nope, No, Never: How Dentophobia Can Affect Our Health

Portrait of a scared woman during dental examination.

Going to the dentist isn’t as scary as it seems. If you put off your regular dental checkups because you’re scared, you could be causing more problems for your future self due to dentophobia. 

What is Dentophobia? 

Dentophobia is a term used to describe patients who have a deep fear of going to the dentist. However, this fear can impact your overall health if it prevents you from visiting your dentist on a regular basis. If you think you have dentophobia, we’re here to walk you through why you shouldn’t be nervous coming to see us. 

Dentophobia is a common phobia no matter your age. There are also different divisions of dentophobia. According to Verywell Mind, those categories are:

  • The dentist: people are most often scared of the dentists, and they can be seen as mean or cold – but that’s not true! All you have to do is come meet our dentists to know that. 
  • Pain: no one wants to be in pain, but in modern dentistry many procedures now involve minimal discomfort or pain. The fear of being in pain is what prevents many people from going to the dentist, but these days we’re able to minimize pain to a great extent. 
  • Numbness or gagging: some people get scared about having difficulty breathing while being operated on at the dentist. These people tend to also hate having their mouth numbed because they worry about the effect it’ll have on their ability to breathe and swallow. 
  • Sounds and smells: some people who have had previous bad experiences at the dentist can be traumatized by the sounds and smells at the dentist office – in most cases, the sound of the drill.
  • Needles: lots of people have a needle phobia, but some people have an intense fear of injections. Your dentist will walk you through all the fears to make your experience as comfortable as possible. 

How to Cope with Fear of Dentistry 

If you ask most anyone, they’ll tell you they were nervous for their first trip to the dentist. However, a lot of people are able to overcome that fear to go to their regular dental appointments every six months. Between 5%-8% of Americans avoid dentists out of fear, says WebMD. If you’re struggling with fear and anxiety over going to the dentist, here are some tips on how to cope:

  • Let your dentist know how you’re feeling before the exam or procedure begins. Many times, the dentist will talk with you about your nerves, touch base with you at multiple points during the procedure, and give you a signal that you can use to let them know if they need to stop. If you feel more in control, you’re less likely to feel frightened about going to the dentist. 
  • If you’re scared your oral health isn’t the best, know that the dentist isn’t going to judge you. Dentists are there to help you and talk with you over your concerns and your health goals.
  • Don’t let dentist trips that have gone bad in the past affect how you feel today. Sometimes bad appointments when we were younger can make us scared to go back as adults, but if you talk with your dentist about your previous experiences they can help guide you through the appointment so you’re comfortable. 

Overall, it comes down to communication. You don’t have to be scared to talk to your dentist. The more vocal you are during your appointment, the less anxiety and fear you will feel throughout your time in the office.

What’s a Common Exam Like?

You should be visiting the dentist twice a year, more if you have larger issues. If you know what to expect when you visit the dentist, that can take away a large amount of your fear and relieve your anxiety. A comprehensive dental exam will include the following: 

  • Your dental team reviewing your health history and any concerns you have
  • Checking for signs of bad oral hygiene habits that have led to gum disease or cavities 
  • Looking at your jaw alignment and bite 
  • A deep cleaning and showing you how to clean your teeth thoroughly 
  • Removing any built up surface stains and plaque buildup 
  • Examining restorations you’ve had done in the past
  • Taking dental x-rays 
  • Going over the findings of your exam and noting them in your dental record 
  • After the appointment, the dentist will go over your new treatment plan with you and what you should be doing at home to keep your mouth as healthy and happy as possible

Make an Appointment 

You don’t need to be scared of coming to see us here at Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies. If you have any anxiety over visiting the dentist, contact us to ask us any questions you might have. We want to make sure you have the best oral health care possible, and we know you’ll love our team!