“Dentophobia”- It can be known as dental fear, dental anxiety, dentist phobia, odontophobia, or dentophobia. They all mean the same thing: an intense fear of visiting the dentist for dental care. Think Sir Laurence Olivier in The Marathon Man.
According to the Oral Health Foundation, 60% of Americans can have some form of dentophobia. Being afraid of the dentist means different things to different people; maybe it’s the thought that treatment will hurt, or that the sounds and smells bring back memories of bad experiences as a child. Maybe it’s the sharp tools scraping against your teeth while the smell of latex gloves fills your nostrils and having to get spit sucked out of your mouth…. We all are in a vulnerable and humbling position during a visit to the dentist.
The thing is, some people’s fears are more extreme than others and they will actually avoid going to the dentist all together. This is a very bad call; not seeing the dentist all together can result in bigger health issues that may end up being more painful and stressful than the initial checkups you missed in the first place.
It’s 2018 and the good news is more and more dentists are aware of dentophobia than ever before, and even have many options to help ease the stress during your appointment. Not only can they offer medications to help relax their patients, advances in technology have also improved dentistry and treatments can now be completely painless! The dental wand, a computerized injection system that looks like a pen and delivers the anesthetic, is great for anyone who hates needles. There are also numbing gels, updated tools, and new techniques that makes a trip the dentist’s office much more bearable.
In honor of National Dental Hygiene Month, we wanted to bring awareness to how important dental health is. If you are suffering from dentophobia, find a dentist that is understanding of your fear, let the dental office know before your visit, and from the moment you step through the front door, they will do their very best to make your experience as pleasant as possible.
In conclusion, if you are a part of the 60% that has some form of dentophobia and you have not seen a dentist in years, rest assured that the dental experience is changing drastically each year and it’s time to stand up for your health, face your fears, and make your appointment. You may leave the dentist phobia-free!