Safest Teeth Whiteners
The safest ways to whiten your teeth explained
In this article
A dentophobe is someone with a deep fear (phobia) of going to the dentist. Terms for this condition include dentophobia and dental anxiety.
Most adults in the United States experience some level of dental anxiety. But some avoid going to the dentist altogether.
Even though dental anxiety can feel debilitating, skipping out on visits to the dentist is dangerous. Issues like tooth decay, periodontal disease, and oral cancer can become emergencies if not detected early enough.
Fortunately, there are ways to combat dental anxiety.
One study estimated approximately 36 percent of the population is afflicted by dental anxiety.
It also found another 12 percent suffer from extreme dental fear of the dentist.1
It affects both sexes, but is twice as common in women as in men (4.6 vs 2.7 percent, respectively).5
In most cases, a traumatic experience such as a complicated or painful procedure at the dentist can turn someone into a dentophobe.
For example, someone who experiences a perforation of the sinus cavity from a tooth extraction may have anxiety about going to the dentist again.
Sometimes its not due to a procedure but to the dentist in particular. Someone may become a dentophobe due to feeling disrespected or dismissed by a rude dentist.
But bad experiences of one’s own are not always the culprits. Just hearing about someone else’s bad dental experiences can be enough to give someone dentophobia.
Various anxiety disorders may cause dentophobia, such as:
Some symptoms of dental phobia include:
Below are some common treatment options available for dental phobia:
Dentists may use sedatives, nitrous oxide, a local anesthetic, or general anesthesia to soothe a patient.
They may also prescribe anxiety medications such as Xanax or Valium before a dental procedure.
Some dental practices include psychologists on staff. These psychologists help patients manage their dentophobia through behavioral and relaxation techniques.
Common techniques include practicing deep breathing exercises, listening to soothing music with headphones (to drown out the noise of loud dental machines), meditating, and more.
Dental patients can practice some of these behavioral therapy techniques on their own, too.
This involves the dentist explaining the procedures they’re performing in a calming manner. They may also use positive reinforcement, praising the patient after a procedure to boost their confidence.
Patients can often help themselves overcome their fears by doing their research before choosing a general dentist.
If the patient believes that they can trust the dentist they choose, they’re likely to feel less afraid. They may even request to meet with the dentist prior to a procedure to make sure that they feel comfortable.
A dentist can prescribe a variety of medications to treat a patient’s anxiety. This is known as sedation dentistry.
They may give the patient a mild sedative like laughing gas along with or local or general anesthesia.
Medications like Valium and Xanax may also be used.
Xanax may help dental anxiety in patients. However, Xanax is just one of the ways that dentists can help treat dentophobia in patients.
The biggest concern with avoiding a dental appointment due to anxiety is developing poor dental hygiene. Dental visits are necessary — even for anxious patients — to keep health problems at bay.
While negative experiences in the dentist’s chair can take a toll on someone’s mental health, forgoing dental checkups can take a toll on physical health too. Avoiding treatment for too long can lead to painful cavities, a root canal, gum disease, and even oral cancer.
Talk to the dental team at your dental practice about how you can overcome your dental anxiety, together, to ensure that you receive the oral care you need.
In this article