There are some people whose fear of dentists is so intense that they would rather run into a burning building than schedule their six-month dental exam. If you're one of these individuals, you are not alone. Fear of the dentist is extremely common. Often referred to as dental anxiety or dental phobia, the condition affects an estimated 30-40 million Americans. Many make light of their dentist phobia and some even take a bizarre pride in their unwillingness to seek professional dental care. This approach is misguided at best and can be downright dangerous in some instances.
Living in fear of dentists is no laughing matter. For many the long-term impact of deliberately avoiding the dentist can be very serious. In addition to helping prevent dental cavities and tooth loss, regular dental exams are critical to controlling gum disease -- a serious infection that has been linked to illnesses like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Despite the clinically proven importance of regular dental exams, an estimated 8 percent of Americans regularly avoid going due to their dentist phobia. Studies show that approximately one in five adults has such deep-seated fear of the dentist that they will only see one if they are experiencing a full-blown dental emergency.
The Difference Between Dental Phobia and Dental Anxiety Symptoms
While the terms dental anxiety and dental phobia are often used interchangeably to describe fear of dentists, there is a difference between the two conditions. Most people display some dental anxiety symptoms at one time or another. They may experience some nervousness prior to a dental exam; however, their fear of the dentists is typically not enough to prevent them from seeking the regular care necessary to maintain good oral health. Dental phobia is something different. It's like the fear of dentists to the power of ten. If the very idea of dental work fills you with debilitating terror, you are probably suffering from fear of dentist and dental phobia symptoms.
The most common fear of dentist and dental phobia symptoms include:
If these fear of dentist and dental phobia symptoms sound familiar, it's important to let your dentist know about your concerns. Dentists today are specially trained to help even the most fearful patients effectively deal with their dental phobia symptoms.
Recognizing Dental Anxiety Symptoms in Children
Children typically display their fear of dentists in one of two ways: temper tantrum or tears. If you're a particularly "lucky parent," you may have a child whose dentist phobia manifests itself in gale-force temper tantrums wracked by uncontrollable sobbing. Try to remember if your child has a meltdown in the waiting room that it's perfectly normal for small children to be anxious about visiting the dentist. This reaction is usually related to separation anxiety or their fear of the unknown.
Interestingly, a common source of the fear of dentists is the child's own parents. Children often intuitively pick up on their parents' dentist phobia symptoms. You can reduce the stress and drama of your child's visit to the dentist by painting it as a positive experience and refraining from sharing any unpleasant dental experience that you may have had.
Help for Fear of Dentist and Dental Phobia Symptoms Is Just a Phone Call Away
Don't let your fear of dentists prevent you or a loved one from receiving regular dental care. Good dental health is too important to your overall well-being to forego these important, potentially lifesaving exams.
If you need help finding a dentist near you who specializes in treating patients with dentist phobia, search now or call 1-866-970-0441.