Many know the fear of the dentist and, therefore, postpone a visit to the consultation. In most cases, however, the fear of the dentist is completely unfounded.
Dental fear is a very common phenomenon. Many are aware of the fear of the dentist and therefore postpone a visit to the consultation. In most cases, however, the fear of the dentist is completely unfounded, because those who always take good care of their teeth usually have nothing to fear when they visit the dentist.
Fear of the dentist is a common reason for putting off routine bi-annual exams. Between sixty and eighty percent of the German population say they have not seen the interior of the office for a long time for fear of the dentist. In about twenty percent of them, the fear of the dentist is so great that the last examination of the teeth was several years ago. Around five percent of the German population suffers from such extreme fear of dentists that they say they never go to the dentist. In this case, we no longer speak of dental fear, but of dental phobia or dental phobia. The question of whether someone suffers from fear of dentists or even dental phobia is difficult to answer because transitions are often smooth. A degree of fear of the dentist is widespread and can generally be treated relatively well using simple relaxation techniques. Dental phobia, on the other hand, is a pathological condition that can last a lifetime without special therapy. We will tell you how you can finally control your fear of the dentist!
Where does the fear of dentists come from?
Fear of the dentist can have many different reasons, which are not always rational. In some cases, fear of the dentist is actually based on personal experiences of painful treatment that have been traumatically imprinted on the memory and are automatically associated with going to the dentist: around eighty percent of all those affected state that their fear of dentist has been around since a particularly unpleasant treatment. Once the painful treatment has settled in memory, accompanying circumstances such as the light and atmosphere in a dental office or the typical smell can trigger the fear of the dentist. Sometimes the fear of the dentist is transmitted within the family or among friends: for example, if parents are very afraid of the dentist and therefore avoid prophylaxis, they often also transmit this aversion to their children, to sometimes even before you’ve seen the dentist.
How to deal with the fear of dentists?
The best way to deal with fear of the dentist largely depends on the cause and extent of the fear of the dentist. It is important to ask yourself what causes fear of the dentist. Have you already experienced painful dental treatment yourself, or did your fear of dentists only stem from stories? It also often helps to know that the pain from a serious dental problem is often much greater and longer lasting than a visit to the dentist. However, you should be able to control your dental fear with the following options!
Autogenic training for fear of dentists
Those affected can often control a slight dental fear with simple relaxation techniques before treatment. Autogenic training is easy to learn and is a gentle method of autosuggestion. You will learn to put yourself in a trance-like state of rest in the most varied stressful situations of everyday life, also in the dentist’s chair. Autogenic training stabilizes your circulation and calms your breathing and pulse, making it an effective method against panic that causes you to scare off the fear of dentists. Also, you can specifically relax your muscles through autogenic training if you are tight and tense due to fear of the dentist. You can learn autogenic training yourself using an audio CD or take a course where autogenic training is taught in a group. By practicing relaxation techniques regularly, you can put yourself into a comfortable state of relaxation in the dentist’s chair and thus overcome your fear of dentists on your own.
Hypnosis against the fear of dentists
It is also possible to use hypnosis to combat dental fear. Hypnosis is a treatment method in the field of psychotherapy, but it is also being used more and more in the area of dental fear. With hypnosis, another person puts you in a different state of consciousness. A specially trained psychologist or a trained hypnotist can put your body functions into a state of rest immediately before dental treatment, which is less susceptible to external stimuli. Sensory perception is also limited to hearing and complex thought processes in the brain do not take place during the period of hypnosis. By reducing bodily functions and perception, both the state of fear can be interrupted and the sensation of pain can be reduced. A great advantage of hypnosis is, for example, that additional anesthetics are often not needed for dental treatment. However, the costs of hypnosis in relation to dental treatment are usually quite high and unfortunately rarely covered by health insurance. Hypnosis can only work if you can relax. Therefore, it is important that you fully trust both the hypnotist and your dentist and feel that you are in good hands in the dentist’s office. Hypnosis against fear of the dentist in particular is often difficult to perform and it may take a while before you can engage in hypnosis and relax in the dentist’s chair despite your fear of the dentist.
Behavioral therapy against fear of dentists
If there is a particularly great fear of the dentist or a phobia of the dentist, behavioral therapy may be necessary to break the cycle of fear and avoidance behavior. Behavioral therapy is a technique commonly used in psychotherapy to treat anxiety disorders. However, you should be sure to contact a psychotherapist who specializes in behavioral therapies and the treatment of anxiety disorders. In a conversation with the psychotherapist you will learn in a first step to be aware of your fear and to recognize different aspects of it, such as rational and irrational reasons, things that can trigger fear and how you react to fear of it.For example, avoid a visit to the dentist. In the second step, the psychotherapist works with you to develop ways to better manage your dental anxiety and the situations in which it is triggered. This is how you learn to deal with fear and reduce it step by step. In most cases, the costs of behavioral therapy are covered by your health insurance company.
The right dentist takes away your fear
Due to the widespread fear of dentists, there are now many practices that specialize in treating anxious patients. With the so-called fear dentist, you are in good hands if you are afraid of the dentist. A particularly thorough and sensitive consultation is the highest priority in such a practice to take the fear out of the dentist before treatment. In addition, fearful dentists use special treatment techniques, such as laser therapy, to make complicated procedures painless. With many types of laser therapy, it is even possible to do without anesthetic injections, because many patients who fear the dentist especially fear injections before dental treatment.
In the case of a particularly severe fear of dentists or a phobia of the dentist, you may also be put into a so-called twilight sleep or even under general anesthesia, although the procedure does not necessarily require it. Some anxious patients find it easier if they can fully sleep during treatment. Anxiety dentists specialize in particularly mild anesthesia methods to keep the health risk that may be associated with anesthesia as low as possible. However, you must bear the additional costs of twilight sleep or general anesthesia, unless a psychologist certifies that you have a dental phobia that makes this method of treatment necessary. A detailed consultation with an anxiety dentist will show you all the options for dealing with your fear of the dentist. In this way, treatment can be optimally tailored to your needs, and after a positive experience in the dentist’s chair, fear of the dentist usually quickly becomes a thing of the past.
Almost no one likes to go to the dentist and it is not uncommon for the recommended semi-annual prophylaxis to turn into annual visits to the dentist. However, if fear of the dentist causes oral hygiene to be neglected and an office visit avoided altogether, action is needed. An anxiety dentist, autogenic training, or hypnosis can help you fight fear.