Statistics show that for many people with dental phobia, the onset resulted fro a traumatic experience in childhood. That was what happened to me. I had an abscessed tooth and the dentist pulled it with no Novocain and never prescribed an antibiotic. After that even the thought of getting my teeth cleaned would make me physically ill. When our children were young I took them to a dentist who dealt exclusively with children. I couldn’t stay in the room with them. This kind man had me just sit in the chair and chat with him. When I was comfortable with that (a few weeks) he took x-rays, then we progressed to a cleaning. It took four months to get to that point and another two before I allowed him to fill two cavities.
This is not an atypical approach to dental phobias. Many therapists recommend this method. Some dentists don’t feel comfortable with this approach, and will refer you to someone who uses it routinely.
Those who developed dental phobias as a result of a horrific experience are referred to by some researchers as exogenous phobics, while those who develop it as a result of a sense of loss of control or from hearing of other people’s tales of terror are considered endogenous.
Some people have a form of the condition where they may fear only one dental procedure, such as the Novocain injection, the gas mask, or more commonly the noise of the drill.
Dental phobia can seriously affect a person’s life. In addition to poor dental health, an oral infection can become systemic and cause serious overall health issues. Also some sufferers begin to withdraw from friends and associates because they are embarrassed by the appearance of their teeth. They can become seriously depressed. Loss of self esteem, over not being able to overcome the fear, also can be a problem.
If you are a dental phobic you may be ashamed of being afraid of something that everyone else does routinely and probably think nobody else feels the way you do. Researchers estimate, that between 5 and 20% of people in western countries never see a dentist due to fear.
Don’t despair, you can get dental phobia and fear treatment and cure. You can call a dentist and explain the problem, she may be able to help you or refer you to someone who can.
Your medical doctor can refer you to a therapist. Before beginning with a therapist ask if they have experience with dental phobia. The local school of dental medicine should also be able to help you with a referral at the very least.
How does treatment proceed? Some therapists suggest what my kids’ dentist used more than 30 years ago. A gradual desensitization. Get comfortable sitting in the chair, having x-rays, cleaning and finally whatever treatment is needed.
Others start out with therapy sessions, aimed at getting to whatever may have triggered the phobia. This is the key to beginning the healing process. Then they may suggest the gradual desensitization process or the client may now feel ready to tackle a visit to the dentist.
In extreme cases it may be necessary for the phobic to be heavily sedated or even anesthetized for necessary dental treatment. However most of us can successfully experience a dental phobia and fear treatment and cure.