It’s one of the most common fears in both children and adults, and yes, it has an official scientific name too: Dentophobia - The fear of dentists or dental services.
For those of us who feel no anxiety when we sit down in a dentist’s chair, this may seem strange or even irrational. But it’s been estimated that as much as 75% of the world’s adult population experiences some level of fear or trepidation surrounding dental visits with a relatively small number of people who are so terrified, they simply don’t go.
Facing a fear of the dentist
The anxiety that some people feel when considering a dental visit can be very severe. The best recommendation for those whose fear is so strong it’s debilitating, is to seek professional help from a psychiatrist or therapist experienced in treating serious phobias.
However, for many people, their fear of the dentist is rooted in a memory or the anticipation of an unpleasant experience. There’s no denying that when a hygienist is examining your sensitive gum line with a sharp metal object, there’s the potential for a moment of unexpected discomfort on occasion. Generally, these instances are rare, and if they occur, are very brief and mild.
If your fear of the dentist is connected to a childhood experience, it’s important to consider the modern and always improving dental landscape today.
Beyond the fact that trained and experienced dentists and hygienists are skilled in accomplishing their work with as little discomfort as possible, there’s also likely been advancements in the equipment over time, meaning less prodding and probing than you remember.
In addition, many dentists, aware that their patients may be anxious, have designed their examination rooms specifically to put patients at ease. They may offer headphones and a calming music selection, as well as anesthetic options that can alleviate the possibility of pain even when pain is unlikely.
Facing fear of dental bills
"There’s no denying that when a hygienist is examining your sensitive gum line with a sharp metal object, there’s the potential for a moment of unexpected discomfort on occasion."
While only a small number of us suffer from true dentophobia, many people are concerned about the cost of dental services. Especially those who are currently uninsured or whose insurance plan doesn’t cover dental services.
Paying out of pocket for a general examination and cleaning can cost hundreds of dollars, and the price of dental care can be extremely influential in avoiding the dentist all together.
However, there are alternatives available to keep dental costs under control and make quality oral health care more accessible. A dental discount plan is a perfect example: For one small monthly or annual fee, an entire household can receive 20% to 50% off the cost of standard and advanced dental services, including cleanings, examinations, X-rays, fillings, crowns, and even braces and dentures. With that kind of solid discount right off the top of dental service costs, the fear of a dental service bill can be relieved.
What is worth fearing...
Short of an official dentophobia diagnosis, most of the fear of going to the dentist may just be a symptom of a bigger problem: not having an accurate understanding of oral health and how it’s maintained.
Unfortunately, many adults assume that as long as their teeth or gums aren’t hurting, there’s no reason to have them examined.
However, pain is often one of the last symptoms to show up when you’re facing an oral health problem. This is true of gum disease, infections, cavities, and many other oral health concerns: once you’re feeling pain as a result of the issue, it’s likely been going on for a while.
What’s more, there are many very serious health conditions that can be effectively identified and diagnosed earlier by a dentist during an examination. Among others, the list includes:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Heart disease
- Potential stroke
Think about it this way: What you should really fear isn’t going to the dentist, but what may happen to your oral health if you don’t go!
If you have reservations about going to the dentist, speak to your provider to have your questions answered and find assurance that your dentist wants you to be as comfortable as possible during your visit. If it’s the cost of services that’s causing concern, click the button below to learn more about how you can save on dental care today. Your mouth will thank you.