When you talk with your family or friends about your dental anxieties, chances are you use the terms “fear” and “phobia” interchangeably. There is a great difference, however, between having a fear relating to the dentist and having a phobia related to dental care.
You can usually trace dental fear back through a logical connection to the uncomfortable parts of the experience, like having a stranger’s hands in your mouth. On the other hand, a dental phobia is irrational and can prevent you from stepping foot inside the dental office. While both fears and phobias keep you from getting regular dental care, phobias are particularly harmful because they are deep-seated and often rooted in previous traumatic experiences.
Still uncertain why a phobia of the dentist or dentistry is different from fear? Don’t worry. We’ll explain the difference for you. We also know of a painless solution, the DentalVibe Comfort Injection System, which is taking the fear out of dentistry.
Three of the major types of dental phobia are dentophobia, odontophobia, and trypanophobia. These are connected to the dentist, dentistry or receiving dental care, and needles (the object, the injection or both), respectively. No matter which category a patient falls under, all these phobias usually have commonalities in how they arose in the first place.
Of the most common causes for dentophobia are bad experiences with past dentists or hygienists who were uncaring or mean their patients. Some studies suggest 80-85% of dental phobias are triggered by traumatic experiences, although some patients might deal with histories of abuse outside of dentistry that feeds into their phobia of uncaring dentists as well. If a bad experience with a dentist included a painful procedure, then it could inspire a phobia of dentistry in general or the dental care process. Of course, if a patient had a rough and painful procedure that required a needle injection, then it’s understandable that the phobia is more fixated on the needle and the pain it causes.
However, patients might have a history of trypanophobia that began before their dental visits, which is why it’s important to offer phobic patients an outlet to voice their dread of treatment and offer a painless needle option that makes their fear a thing of the past.
We mentioned giving patients an outlet to explain where their phobia originates from, so they can come to terms with how their phobia controlled their life and dental experiences. One option is pretreatment conditioning, where patients can meet in no-obligation appointments and get more familiar with their dentists. This method has proven effective as long as dentists are sensitive to how patients’ phobias of the dental office.
Some patients suffer from phobia to the degree that they experience a fight-or-flight response, according to Dr. Louis Siegelman, D.D.S. who specializes in extreme dental phobias. He suggests having dentists and patients discuss coping practices to help patients regain a sense of control over their dental experience, such as establishing a hand signal. Couple some coping practices together with DentalVibe, an injection tool that is designed to look and feel harmless, and phobic patients stand a real chance of conquering their dental phobias.
Nearly 100% of patients who have had a DentalVibe injection say it’s changed their perceptions of dentistry for the better. Being able to disassociate pain from dentistry leads to dental practices being able to offer vital services that patients have wanted and needed for years. Dentistry shouldn’t inspire pain and fear through unfortunate by-products of traditional injections or phobias connected to old perceptions of dentistry being about having to “hurt to help.” DentalVibe can help reduce these anxieties and create healthier relationships between patients and specialistis.