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11 Apr 2023

Why Am I Scared of the Dentist? Common Dental Phobia Causes and What You Can Do About Them

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It’s understandable to feel worried when experiencing pain or discomfort and about receiving any form of treatment. Health issues are a rational cause for concern. But, we can also put our trust in the skills, knowledge and experience of a healthcare professional. This is often enough to allay our fears. 

For some, this isn’t so easy. If you feel anxious about seeing a dentist, you may have a dental phobia. This is a common problem; however, if it’s preventing you from getting essential dental care, it’s important to look for ways to overcome these fears. 

Before you can move past your anxieties, it’s helpful to understand dental phobia and its most common causes. 

Today, we’re exploring why you might be scared to visit your dentist and how to fight the fear and get the treatment you need. 

What Is Dental Phobia?

Dental phobia is a fear or anxiety about visiting a dentist or receiving treatment. The thought of going to a dentist may cause increased heart rate, sweating, low blood pressure, and irritability. You may find that you completely avoid the subject of going to the dentist or use aggression or humour to mask your worries and doubts. 

You may feel nervous, stressed or panicky about going for a checkup; however, if you have lived with a dental phobia for a long time, it’s quite likely that you haven’t had a routine examination in many years. When dental problems arise, you will have the symptoms and the stress around them to contend with. The added pain can make your anxiety worse. 

Without treatment, you may experience dental discomfort, develop a failing smile, and have discoloured and stained teeth that cause you embarrassment and upset. 

What Causes Dental Phobia?

There are many reasons for dental phobia, and sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact issue, or there may be multiple factors. 

A Negative Experience

For many, a negative experience at the dentist can be a cause. This may have happened while you were young or more recently. It’s natural to develop anxiety or worry if you’ve had a poor experience elsewhere. 

A Learnt Behaviour

If your parents or someone else you grew up with had a dental phobia, you may also experience similar anxiety or fear. It’s easy to pick up on other people’s worries and develop comparable thoughts and behaviours. 

Trauma

You may have experienced physical or emotional trauma at some point in your life. While these may not be dental-related, you may have developed an acute trauma response to many situations in life. 

Other Types of Anxiety and Mental Health Issues

If you experience any other type of anxiety, such as agoraphobia, suffer from depression, OCD,  or have another mental health condition, a dental phobia may be a comorbid issue.

Concerns Around Control

Many people experience dental phobia because they fear losing control. While you’re in a dentist’s chair, you may worry about feeling helpless, or that the dentist is invading your personal space. 

Fighting Your Fear of the Dentist

Although dental phobia may seem like an issue you can’t overcome, with the right support and approach, you can. 

Talk It Through

The first thing you need to do is talk about it. Here at Love Teeth, our owner Dr KP is a Dental Phobia certified dentist. This means he’s recognised for his approach to treating anxious patients. Booking a relaxed appointment to talk through your worries is a great first step to overcoming them. Other areas of support include your GP or a counsellor. 

Talking to us helps because if we know the specific things that cause you anxiety, we can put plans in place to help you manage your anxiety while we’re giving you a checkup or giving you essential treatment. 

A counsellor may help you tackle the root cause of your anxiety while giving you coping strategies. 

Use Distractions

While receiving treatment, you will likely focus intently on what you’re most worried about. When this happens, your anxiety is likely to build, and it could lead to a panic attack. Distractions give you something else to think about, 

Listening to music, an audio book, or your favourite podcast can help. Why not curate a feel-good Spotify playlist? Alternatively, our clinics have TVs on the ceilings, giving you something else to pay attention to. 

Relaxation Techniques

There are several techniques that can help you relax. During times of heightened anxiety, your body starts to produce stress hormones like cortisol or adrenaline. 

These naturally occurring chemicals prepare us to take action when we’re faced imminent danger. To aid the fight or flight response, blood is taken from our brain and other organs and sent to our muscles. As this happens, we breath faster and our heart rate increases. 

The trick is to reverse this. By breathing slowly, your heart rate will drop and the blood and oxygen will return to your brain. Hormone production will shift and your anxiety will drop. 

Breathe in for a few seconds, hold your breath, and then breathe out for the same length of time for a few minutes and you should start to feel calmer. 

Similarly, using grounding techniques like progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and meditation can also help. 

Don’t Come Alone

Bringing a friend, partner, or family member with you to your appointment can also help. Having someone with you that knows you well, and that you trust can give you the reassurance you need during your treatment. 

Go At Your Pace

If we know you’re nervous about your checkup or treatment, we can slow things down or take a break needed. We can discuss how to let us know at the start. 

Come In While It’s Quiet

Booking an appointment for a quiet time of day can also help. Although we’ve tried to make our waiting room as comfortable as possible, we understand that if there’s a lot going on, it can make anxiety worse. Let our receptionists know you’re anxious, and they can help you find the best time for your appointment. 

Overcoming Dental Phobia With Love Teeth 

Don’t let dental phobia define you. Dr KP and his friendly team at Love Teeth are here to help you overcome your anxiety and get the dental care you need. 

With clinics in Sutton, Stonecot, Cheam, Chessington, and Worcester Park, it’s easier than ever to find support and understanding. 

Love teeth #locations

Our locations across Surrey. Contact us or Call us on fashion style icon set 020 8337 0629

Location-black Worcester Park

165 Central Rd, Worcester Park KT4 8DS

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Location-black Cheam

743 London Road, Cheam, SM3 9DL

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Location-black Chessington

401 Hook Rd, Chessington KT9 1EW

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Location-black Stonecot

2-8 Stonecot Hill, Sutton SM3 9HE

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Location-black Sutton

5 Sutton High St, Sutton SM1 1DF

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