The fear of the dentist is the dentophobia, a real disease recognised by the World Health Organization. According to the WHO, one-fifth of the population would suffer from it.
It is a psychological disorder related to the anxiety of coming into contact with everything related to the world of dentistry. You can have a fear of entering the dentist’s office, fear of drilling noise, fear of the smell of disinfectant typical of dental rooms, fear of getting touched in your mouth. Those phobias involve the five senses: the most common dental phobia includes them all and is the fear of dental implants.
Psychology of fear
All feelings of anxiety, extreme apprehension and fears related to the dentist are psychological phenomena arising from what the patient knows or believes he knows about dentists in general.
Very often, you are afraid of the idea that the dentist may hurt you even without having had painful experiences about it. To a large extent, the fear of the dentist is a cultural phenomenon related to the collective imagination. Often, a series of conditionings that we suffer from since childhood cause us to reject the idea of booking an appointment at the dental office. Even in the cartoons that we see as children, the dentist’s office is shown as if it were a torture chamber. It’s normal for children to grow up thinking it actually is a bad place.
The fear of pain
From a rational point of view, fear of pain is not pain, but fear. The logic of this expression is that when there is fear, there is no pain, so what has feared in itself is not the pain, but the fear itself. At this point, we must ask ourselves how to overcome it.
Fear of the dentist, how to deal with it
There are many remedies to overcome the fear of the dentist. The first step is to become aware that this is an irrational fear, most often linked to conditioning.
Here are several remedies that many dentists suggest to fight this problem:
Bach Flowers: Rescue Remedy
Among the homoeopathic remedies, the most suitable to face the fear of the dentist is the Rescue Remedy, a preparation in drops beneficial to counteract states of anxiety, panic attacks and all concerns of irrational order, such as fear of flying, examination or interview anxiety, etc.
As an alternative to Bach flowers, valerian or linden are lighter remedies. They always have to be taken in drops, a little before the visit to the dentist, because they need more time to take effect.
Very often, patients would like to undergo general anaesthesia to solve their fear. Many dentists (including our practice) allow patients to choose conscious sedation. In the presence of an anaesthetist the inhalation of nitrous oxide or – more effectively – the intravenous administration of benzodiazepines can completely dumb you. Actually, the patient is awake, can follow and cooperate, but is sedated and therefore cannot feel any pain.
Hypnosis is taking hold as an alternative to total anaesthesia or conscious sedation. The pre-intervention hypnotic techniques are based on listening to the hypnotist’s voice and have already proven to be effective in many cases. The practice of sedative hypnosis is indicated for patients who cannot be anaesthetised by medication. Some patients can’t undergo to anaesthetic for reasons related to their medical history, fear of puncture or intolerance to the type of drugs.
How to fight the fear of the dentist back
All the remedies in the world can only help, but the most significant work is the one on yourself. Every day we are faced with people who are more or less afraid of being in a dental office. The manuals teach us a lot, but only time and continuous contact with patients allows us to stay close to them and accompany them to the end of their worries.
That’s the real place to get a smile back!