Many people get a little nervous when they have to come in for a dental appointment. After all, dentists have a reputation for causing pain either before or after the procedure. But, few people experience true, deep-seated dental fear – the type that is debilitating in its intensity.
This kind of dental fear is called odontophobia. It is a type of anxiety disorder that usually develops out of a childhood trauma. The fear is so intense that people who have it would rather put their health on the line than to seek dental treatment.
To allow such patients to receive treatment, practices like All Smiles Dental Care Implant Centre, an implant dentist in Kent, offer complete sedation. This renders a patient in a state of relaxation and partial unconsciousness, overriding the fear. Unfortunately, sedation is only a temporary solution – it does not get rid of the long-term fear that phobic patients experience.
Odontophobia is a type of specific phobia. This means it is a type of unreasonable fear that stems from the fear of dentists. Usually, odontophobia is a combination of situational anxiety and blood-injection-injury phobia.
Situational anxiety refers to the situation: people are afraid of simply being at the dental practice. On the other hand, blood-injection-injury phobia refers to the fear of being around blood or needles, or getting hurt. Most people suffering from phobias dread dental drills and other invasive procedures.
Phobias are quite complex and it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly what causes odontophobia. However, it usually develops from a traumatic experience as a child. A botched or painful procedure is the usual culprit.
As with many phobias, odontophobia is treated with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Instead of trying to control the fear with rational thought, the patient is treated using gradual exposure to elements of a dental procedure. CBT may also involve asking a patient to focus on their negative feelings and try to face it head on.
CBT is one of the most effective ways to conquer a dental phobia. This will allow a patient to sit through a dental procedure and get help when they need it.