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How Can You Overcome The Fear Of Going To The Dentist?

By Neha Ghosh

Most of us fear going to the dentist and when the fear is at extreme levels, it is called dental phobia or dental anxiety. Most of the dental procedures aren't painful, but most people get anxiety issues about going to the dentist. They become so frightened that they would do anything to avoid going to a dentist.

The difference between dental anxiety and phobia is that the former one may be mild to moderate and often the person has a general sense of worry and apprehension. The latter one is a more intense experience with irrational fear.

Dental phobia is a much more serious condition than anxiety and a noted study has shown that female participants were more anxious than men participants. Around 82.6 per cent of the participants reported anxiety towards tooth extraction procedure. A significant link was seen between dental anxiety and extraction procedure with the gender, age group, education level, employment status, income, self-perceived oral health status and history of visiting the dentist.

What Are The Causes Of Dental Phobia And Anxiety?

1. Fear of injections

Who isn't terrified of sharp needles? Most people have the fear of needles, especially when inserted into their mouth. Though anaesthesia is given to eliminate pain before any dental procedures, people still have the fear that injections might inflict pain.

2. Fear of pain

The causes of dental phobia stem from an early dental experience that was painful or unpleasant. You might also be disturbed or frightened by the stories told by your friends or relatives. Owing to many advances in dentistry, today dental procedures aren't very painful.

3. Fear of anaesthetic side effects

Some people fear the side effects of anaesthesia which include dizziness, nausea and fainting.

The Signs And Symptoms Of Dental Phobia

Trouble sleeping the day before your visit to the dentist.

Crying or feeling physically ill while thinking of going to the dentist.

Nervousness, sweating, and heart palpitations while you enter the dentist clinic.

How Dental Phobia Or Anxiety Can Affect Your Oral Health?

Avoiding a dentist can lead to gum disease or other major oral health problems which might require complex treatment later. So, it is better to go for regular dental check-ups, cleansing of the mouth, etc., which can prevent dental disease and help the dentist to address the problems early.

How To Overcome Dental Phobia?

1. Speak to your dentist

If you are tensed or anxious, let the dentist know your concerns. Tell your dentist about your anxiety issues, share any bad experience that has occurred to you in the past and ask for suggestions on coping strategies.

2. Keep your mind distracted

When you are nervous, shift your mind's attention to other things like listening to your favourite music or imagine that you are in a happy place or squeeze a stress ball. Keeping your mind distracted will reduce your nervousness to a certain extent.

3. Deep-breathing exercises

Mindful meditation and deep-breathing techniques relax the tension in your muscles. You can start by inhaling and exhaling slowly. This will slow down your heartbeat and help relax your muscles. Another relaxation technique is progressive muscle relaxation, which involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups.

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