What did people do before dentists?

Dental phobia - Conquering the fear of the dentist

Find out here what dental phobia actually is, where it comes from and how you can overcome panic.

Oh shock: the next dentist appointment is due! Most people know this queasy feeling because - let's be honest: Who likes going to the dentist? Everyone is happy if no further treatment is necessary after the routine check-up. What is generally referred to casually as fear of the dentist is by no means a dental phobia. Because: if you don't like going to the dentist, you end up going anyway, albeit reluctantly. But those who suffer from a real phobia often only know the practice from outside. If any.

Where does the fear of dentists come from?

The sound of the drill is etched into my memory forever. An anesthetic injection causes discomfort at the very thought of it. Anyone who has already had a painful procedure at the dentist knows the uncomfortable feeling before the dental treatment. Many patients have had bad experiences from time to time in the past - mostly as early as childhood.

It is a natural reaction to avoid unpleasant situations in which one is in pain and helplessly at the mercy of a stranger. But while most people ultimately let their common sense prevail and know that a visit to the dentist has to be at least once a year, others simply cannot ignore the unpleasant experience. They have become so scared that it is impossible for them to go to the dentist. Sometimes, behind a phobia that is limited to a particular situation, there are other unresolved conflicts that seek an outlet here.

Fear Or Phobia: What's the Difference?

In most cases it is completely unfounded, and yet around 70 percent of the population are afraid of going to the dentist. Many people are familiar with nervousness and discomfort before the next appointment: even when thinking about the check-up they get sweaty hands. So this type of dental fear is very common. But: In the end, those affected are still on the mat on time for the appointment and endure the examination.

It is different with patients with a pathological dental phobia, also known as dental phobia: They suffer from panic attacks when they only hear the sound of the drill or think of a dentist. This panic reaction prevents them from even going to an appointment. They can't even bring themselves to the check-up, because everything in them is reluctant to do so. It is estimated that such a phobia affects around five to ten percent of the population and requires therapeutic treatment. Because: A visit to the dentist is a must and can prevent serious illnesses in good time. Healthy teeth are the basis for a healthy body.

How does a dental phobia express itself?

The usual nervousness before the dental examination is much more pronounced in the case of a dental phobia and is expressed, among other things, by:

  • Racing heart
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • dizziness
  • Circulatory problems
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweats

People with dental phobia usually do not go to the dentist for years, despite pain or other complaints. Just the thought of the dentist instinctively triggers an escape reflex, which is why those affected usually turn back before entering the practice. However, this can have serious consequences: Inflamed teeth can cause various diseases, for example in the heart or brain.

In addition, self-confidence decreases, as a radiant smile is only possible with healthy, well-cared for teeth. Often shame because of strong bad breath limits social contacts. A dental phobia can actually reduce the quality of life. Many of those affected would actually like to have their teeth straightened were it not for this incredibly great panic.

Different forms of dental phobia

Dental phobia can have completely different triggers. If it generally affects everything that has to do with the teeth, the technical term is dental phobia or dentophobia. Oralophobia or odontophobia, on the other hand, is the fear of opening the mouth and, above all, what affects the oral cavity.

Common causes of fear are:

  • Fear of Treatment: Many of those affected cite a fear of the overall treatment situation as the cause. This fear is often exacerbated by bad experiences of acquaintances.
  • Fear of pain: The mere thought of pain during treatment puts many off.
  • Fear of injections: A fear of syringes, which generally keeps those affected away from doctors, is quite widespread.
  • Fear of objects in the mouth: For some people it is a horror to think that another person is handling objects in their mouth.
  • Fear of losing control: A very common reason for a dental phobia is the loss of control and the fear of being helplessly exposed to the dentist during the treatment.
  • Fear of noises: The noise of the drill and the scratching of metal on a tooth alone causes goose bumps in many anxious patients.
  • Fear of suffocation: During open-mouth treatment, the panic of choking may occur as breathing or swallowing is restricted.

You can do this actively against the fear of the dentist

These techniques can reduce your dental anxiety and even eliminate it in the long term. If you suffer from a dental phobia, you should trustingly place yourself in the hands of a psychotherapist who will accompany you on the way out of the phobia and to the dentist:

  • Relaxation exercises: A good way to calm yourself down and fight panic is through relaxation exercises like meditation or autogenic training. Through targeted breathing exercises, you will learn to relax again even in moments of greatest tension.
  • Anti-anxiety training: With this form of behavior therapy, a psychotherapist and the dentist you trust will slowly introduce you to the dental situation. In small steps you will approach the actual treatment and learn to face the fear-inducing situations.
  • Deflection: If you get too involved in your fear, it will only get worse. Distraction, for example with pleasant music or a funny video, can have a positive effect on your thoughts.

The right dentist for anxious patients - He really exists!

Are you one of those people who suffer from pronounced dental phobia? Then give the dentist a chance and find a practice that you trust. Because they really exist: dentists who are specially trained to deal with anxious patients. You know exactly how difficult it is for some people to get to the treatment chair. That is why detailed discussions take place before the actual examination, in which all your questions are answered and in which you can build trust in the treating doctor. In addition, a friendly and positive atmosphere in the dental practice helps you to feel good.

A very successful method in dealing with anxiety patients is the 3-appointment therapy:

  • At the first appointment, there is a non-binding sniff between the dentist and the patient. Specific questions are asked to precisely assess the type and extent of the phobia. Depending on the result, the specialist will respond to your personal needs and make an initial assessment of the dental situation.
  • At a second appointment, the treatment can be carried out under general anesthesia, if desired.
  • The third appointment is for the follow-up examination.

Hypnosis against dental phobia - crazy or effective?

It may still sound strange to many, but hypnosis has actually proven its worth in treating anxiety patients over the past few years. The aim of the therapy is to put you in a light trance, in a state of relaxation. However, this gentle method requires a certain amount of preparation and takes place over several therapy sessions. You can obtain precise information about the process and effect from a dentist who specializes in hypnosis. However, the costs often have to be borne by the patient themselves and are only reimbursable under special circumstances.

The last resort: dental treatment under general anesthesia

Sometimes it has to be simple: in order to prevent serious health consequences, dental treatment often cannot be avoided. For patients with dental phobia, there is then the option of having the procedure carried out under general anesthesia or in twilight sleep. With general anesthesia, you will not notice anything about the treatment; in twilight sleep you can still respond to the doctor's instructions. However, the costs for this are only covered under special circumstances. It is also important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of anesthesia. Your dentist can give you detailed advice on this.

If you are also one of those anxious patients: Take advantage of the help that specialist dentists and psychotherapists can offer you. The experts will show you the way out of your phobia with empathy, understanding and without reservation. Give it a try - all you have to do is take the first step.