Dental phobia - questions and answers
Dental fear is, generally, a reaction to a familiar danger and is connected to a former bad experience. It is a situation which makes you feel the conflict between "fight or run" when you face a familiar threat.
Dental phobia is a state, which can appear even without any bad experiences in the past or any concrete reason. These patients develop nausea, weakness, tremor and even dizziness. Going to the dentist is a question of life or death for them, and it happens mostly when the toothache is so extreme that they will rather "die" than suffer the pain.
Dental fear mostly develops as a result from a bad experience in the past, very often in the early ages when we are very sensitive. If we do not explain to our children, in a way that they can easily understand,that there is no reason to fear the dentist, mistrust or fear can develop. It is very important to spot and prevent the fear in time, so they don't develop panic fear later on.
Dental fear is not hereditary, but an existing fear can be reflected from parents to the child, if the child senses it when you take him to the dentist. If only one of the parents suffers from dental fear, it is recommended for the child to be brought to the dentist's by the parent who is not afraid.
Dental fear and phobia can be treated, but it's very important to choose the right dentist. Such patients have special needs and not all dentists are equally successful in working with them.
It is very important that the expert team working with patients suffering from a fear or a phobia has enough experience and understanding. They are the ones who need to understand the patient's problem and create the treatment plan according to it. In a comprehensive conversation they will find out all there is to know about the patients' fears and advise how to carry on with the treatment without the feeling of being in a dental clinic.
Children easily develop fears and each parent should bear this in mind. Never threaten your child with a visit to the dentist's! You should choose a reliable dentist, who is experienced in working with children, for the first visit. When making an appointment one should point out that this is the first visit with the purpose of getting to know the dentist and the office. No treatment should be done during the first visit, instead it should be educational and fun with a lot of laughter. If one of the parents suffers from dental fear, it is recommended that the other parent takes the child to the dentist or any other member of the family whom the child and the parents trust.
The sound of dental devices can be irritating for some patients and can cause discomfort or fear. The patient can in that case bring his own MP3 player and listen to the music during the procedure. This method is proven as efficient in eliminating all irritating sounds.
If one of the parents suffers from dental fear, it's best for the child to be taken to the dentist's by the other parent, grandparents or some other family member, the child feels confident around. The important thing is that the person does not suffer from dental fear.
Our clinic employs experts with years long experience in working with patients suffering form dental fear or phobia. Out team had a special education in working with such patients and recorded great success in treatment of fears and phobias.
If a patient suffers from dental fear, he/she should definitely point that out when scheduling an appointment. It is also desirable to explain his fears in detail, what his expectations are and what he wants to avoid.
Over 75% of people in the world have some kind of dental fear of phobia. No patient is alone in his fears. In recent years, this problem has gained more attention and is now easier to obtain high-quality professional assistance.
Quality communication with the dentist is very important and it's necessary to determine the rules and signs in advance in order for the dentist to know when to stop. This way, the patient has control over the situation and if he feels the need to take a brake, the dentist will stop instantly to a prior agreed signal.
Dental fear can have different causes, and most frequent ones are:
- shame because of the poor condition of teeth
- lack of control and information during the procedure
- the smell of the dentist's office and drugs
- sound of dental equipment
- pain during procedure
- shame of uncomfortable situations - tears, shivering and similar.
Dental fear of the person or medical uniform is very frequent. If the patient mentions it when making an appointment, most of the dentists will adjust and receive the patient in their civilian clothing. Recommendation of the dentist from a friend is always a good choice.
Most of the patients think their teeth are the worst teeth the dentist has ever seen and that they will be criticized, humiliated or judged for it. This is absolutely not correct because no one will judge or criticize the patient because of the state of his teeth. On the contrary, we will be very pleased that the patient has finally decided to take care of his teeth and repair them. What dentists are facing on daily basis and how can they change somebody's smile if they give them a chance, can be seen in the "Before/after" gallery.
Fear of losing control is very frequent and can relate to a few different situations. These are some of the examples and pieces of advice how to overcome them:
- Laying position in the dental chair - In this situation the patient feels as a turtle on its back. In order for the problem to be solved, it is enough to ask the dentist to place the chair in the maximally vertical position. Most of the dentists won't have any problem with it since they are trained to work in such position. The dentist will work slower and be more careful, and the patient will feel more relaxed.
- Lack of information about what is happening in the mouth - With some of the patients the discomfort is caused by the fact that something is happening in their mouth, and they cannot see what it is, and the process isn't being explained to them. Dentists love their job and they also like to talk about it, it is therefore enough to ask for explanation of individual steps during the procedure. Besides, some dentists also have a mirror just for this occasion.
- Signal to stop - Before starting with the procedure it is necessary to agree on a sign which will mean that the dentist should stop with the treatment immediately. It can be a signal like lifting a hand or a foot, and in that way the patient has control over the treatment all the time. Better equipped dental clinics have a so called "dental button" informing the dentist to stop working through an acoustic signal.
- Step by step - Some patients need time to adjust to specific situations and it is therefore better to go slow. If the patient feels discomfort from the dental chair, the dentist can examine his teeth in a relaxed office atmosphere away from all the instruments. This can gain trust and make it easier to work later on.
- Before sitting in the dental chair - It is very important for the patient to be aware of the fact that the dentist is only providing a service he can always refuse. A visit to the dentist is no different than going shopping, where only the buyer decides on which product to buy or not. If the dentist is not persuasive in selling his products or services, he will not gain the trust of the patient. In that case, it suffices to turn your back and go to another dentist. The attitude towards the patient is the first signal for evaluation of the dentist. Mutual respect and trust will lead to permanent trust.
Eugenol i.e. clove oil used in dentistry is the main culprit for the distinguished smell of the dentist's office. Better equipped clinics have started using alternative means without a smell and have made it easier for the patients to overcome their fear.
Most of the patients associate the dentist with the pain. This is a totally false presumption, since modern dentistry is completely painless. Using local anesthesia correctly, the dentist can isolate the area which is to be treated during the procedure. The patient will not feel any pain whatsoever, and a good dentist will easily relieve him of pain if he gets a chance to do it.
Patients afraid of the needles have a similar problem when visiting the dentist. Application of anesthesia through a needle is a nightmare for them. It is very important to know that gums can also be benumbed with a special gel or electric applicator most of the modernly equipped clinics possess. It is applied in a way that the area for anesthesia is benumbed with a gel and then comes the anesthesia though the needle. With such application there is no chance for the patient to feel any pain.
Some patients might lose control over their reactions just going through the main entrance of the clinic. It is normal for the patients to be nervous as well as pulse rate rising, sweating and crying is. These are all reactions the dentists often see in their everyday work. A good dentist will know how to relax the patient and to gain his trust. Good communication is the key to success in this case!