Is Dental Phobia A Real Thing?

Man covering his mouth from dentist in fear

There’s a common trope in the world surrounding those who are afraid of going to the dentist, but is it a ‘real’ thing? Regardless of whether you’re asking whether it’s a phenomenon that happens or if it’s a legitimate phobia, the answer is an uncontested yes. There are different degrees of dental fear and different ways of how that fear can be managed in coordination with your dentist. Below we’ll discuss the different kinds of dental fear and what can be done to help you overcome them so you can continue your journey on the road to great dental health.

Degrees Of Severity
Not all dental fear is equal. For one person it may manifest as a general fear of going to the dentist that fills them with anxiety and requires soothing breaths to get through. For others it can be a near-paralyzing fear that doesn’t just extend to going to the dentist’s office, but can even manifest when passing by the office, encountering a dentist outside of this setting, or seeing dental procedures performed in the video. For some, even the discussion of dental procedures is enough to set them on edge. Dental fear occurs in between 9% and 20% of Americans and is a commonly reported reason for avoiding regular oral care.

• Dental Anxiety – The first type of dental fear we discussed above is known as dental anxiety. At this stage of severity, all that’s required is a calming technique and, for most, powering through it. For these patients going to the dentist is uncomfortable, but not impossible, experience.
• Dental Phobia – At this stage, the patient isn’t just experiencing anxiety about the experience or the thought of going to the dentist, but can actually enter a fully terrified and panic-stricken state. Patients who have this fear, in general, know that it’s utterly unjustified and irrational, but are incapable of putting a stop to the experience. It takes excruciating pain for someone suffering from this condition to take themselves to the dentist.

How Can I Tell If I Have Dental Fear?
It’s generally pretty easy to tell if you or someone else have dental fear, they’re very clearly aware of it and will mention it whenever dental visits come up. However, if you’re wondering if someone you know has dental anxiety so you can help them with it, watch for the following signs:

• Difficulty sleeping before the exam
• Increasing nervousness while sitting in the dental waiting room
• Physical discomfort, nausea, and generally feeling ill at the mention of the dentist
• Distinct discomfort caused by foreign objects being entered into the mouth.

If you or someone you know experiences these kinds of conditions, odds are good that it’s dental fear or phobia. Every year millions of patients struggle with this condition, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Contact Chad Kasperowski at Champions For Oral Health in Fairfax, VA to talk about what services they offer to help you alleviate your dental fear. You may also want to speak to a mental health professional if you’re struggling with the more severe phobia.