UK DentistryDental Phobia Damages More Than Teeth 

For many, the mere thought of visiting the dentist causes stress and anxiety. However, studies prove that fear and phobia surrounding the dentist can have adverse affects on more than just oral health.

According to Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, as many as 40 million Americans avoid the dentist every year due to fear and anxiety. Unfortunately, the stress and fear brought on by dental anxiety and phobia can have lasting negative effects on many aspects of a person’s overall well-being.

People feel dental anxiety for many reasons, but when that anxiety causes intense fear and dread that result in avoiding the dentist altogether, the result is known as dental phobia. Dental anxieties and phobias are commonly caused by anticipation of pain and negative past experiences. Feelings of helplessness and loss of control in the dental chair can trigger anxiety. For some, even the sterile smell of a dental office evokes fear and worry.

Dental phobia can also have a major impact on a person’s physiological, social, and emotional health. Studies show that patients with dental phobia are likely to have at least one missing or decaying tooth, and face a higher risk of developing gum disease and early tooth loss. These issues can affect the ability to eat, drink, speak and socialize. Those with dental phobia generally have poorer overall health and lower life expectancy due to the link between poor oral health and life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and lung infections.

Fortunately, if you or someone you know is plagued by dental phobia, there are steps you can take to alleviate fear. 

  • The first step to combatting dental phobia is to have open and clear communication with your dentist. As health care providers, dentists are trained to treat patients with anxiety. Expressing your concerns with the dentist and dental staff will help the team adapt treatment to your specific needs. 
  • Choose a low-stress appointment time so that you don’t feel rushed or under pressure. 
  • If the sound of the drill bothers you, bring along your favorite music and earphones.
  • Swap caffeine and sugary foods for high-protein alternatives like almonds and salmon that are known to produce a calming effect. 
  • Finally, remember that fear is often mind over matter. Nervous people tend to hold their breath. Focus on breathing regularly and slowly during dental procedures to decrease anxiety and reduce stress levels.

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