By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert
Dental anxiety is a widespread problem. Most of us know at least a few people who struggle with it…maybe you’re even one of them. However, when push comes to shove, most people with dental anxiety can still maintain their routine dental visits. Dental phobia, however, is a much more serious condition. Let’s take a look at what dental phobia is, what it can be attributed to and the side effects of dental phobia.
Signs of dental phobia
People who struggle with dental phobia experience dread and terror at the mere thought of the dentist and avoid going to the dental office all together unless they are in extreme pain. In addition to avoidance, dental phobia is characterized by insomnia leading up to a dental appointment, crying, nervousness, panic or an upset stomach in the waiting room or exam room.
Causes of dental phobia
Dental phobia can stem from a variety of underlying fears:
- The fear of experiencing pain: Often attributed to bad childhood experiences or to other people’s horror stories, the fear of pain is one of the biggest contributors to dental phobia. Fortunately, with advancements in dental technology, most dental procedures today are virtually pain-free.
- The fear of anesthetics: While used to calm, sedate or numb patients, people with dental phobia often fear anesthetics and their side effects such as nausea, dizziness or the “fat lip” feeling.
- The fear of vulnerability: Many people with dental phobia say they fear having someone working within inches of their face and in their mouth. They also don’t want to feel helpless and want to be unable to see what’s going on.
Left untreated, dental phobia can cause a variety of problems. Because people who suffer from dental phobia avoid regular dental visits and often delay needed dental work, they can develop gum disease and severe tooth decay and can experience early tooth loss. These unfortunate side effects can drastically impact a person’s self esteem and often these victims begin to withdraw socially. Worse yet, poor oral health has been proven to negatively impact a person’s heart and lung health and can lead to decreased life expectancy.
At Eggert Family Dentistry, we rally around our patients. We want to make sure you get the care you need and that you’re as comfortable as possible! If you or a loved one struggle with dental anxiety or dental phobia and would like to learn how we can help, give us a call at 651.482.8412.