Dental Phobia and Dental Anxiety


Many patients suffer from dental phobia or dental anxiety so much so that they will do anything to avoid going to a dentist. However do we know that dental phobia and dental anxiety are two different things? Well yes they are and today we will be discussing about both of them so that you can get a clear understanding.

So what is phobia? In generic terms this is an unreasonable fear from something. So you might be suffering from a phobia of any activity or object. In dentistry people suffering from dental phobia keep themselves away from routine dental care and not just for hours or days in fact months. They are happy to live with periodontal disease, crooked tooth and unhealthy gums. On the other hand dental anxiety is the feeling of uneasiness from something. In dentistry this counts for dental appointments.

These two conditions are extremely common. It has been assumed that globally 15% – 20% population does not wish to see their dentist. A survey was conducted by British Dental Health Foundation which stated that 36% of patients who do not visit their dentist have cited the same reason – Fear (Dental Anxiety).

When you compare both the conditions you will find out that Dental Phobia is a lot more serious than dental anxiety. Once can overcome anxiety but when it comes to fear the time frame to overcome it is a lot more. People facing dental phobia are at a higher risk of falling prey to some serious health issues. The biggest impact they have is on their gums. The dental health deteriorates, tooth becomes discolored and damaged and these situations lead to insecurity. It makes a patient cut himself off from society and even if they appear in public they will hide their mouth and then talk or smile. The embarrassment is of such a level that it starts affecting their professional and personal life. What’s worse is that this condition can lead to some other health issues like heart disease and lung disease.

Now, the question is: What Causes Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia?
Come let’s find out:

  • Pain:
    This has been reported as the main reason by 6% of people who have not visited their dentist in 12 months. The age range of these patients was 24 years and old. Painless dental treatment was the main reason why pain was cited as the cause of dental anxiety and phobia.
  • Feeling helpless and out of control:
    Imagine this: You are traveling for the first time on an airplane. Doors are locked and you have fastened your seat belts. Now, is there anything you can do? That’s the same feeling patients get when they are sitting in dental chair. They cannot move and speak anything. If you feel discomfort you need to make gestures and then your dentist will come to know about how you are feeling. This situation pushes a patient towards dental anxiety.
  • Embarrassment:
    How do feel when you laugh and someone keeps watching your teeth? We are so insecure about our looks that the moment someone stares at us we feel embarrassed. This primarily is the reason why we do not like it when a dentist peeps inside our mouth. Dental Treatment will require your Dentist to be close to you. This makes many of us feel uncomfortable.
  • Pain or Discomfort in previous dental treatment:
    As a human being we do keep the past experiences in our mind. This is the reason why a painful dental treatment in past will have a lasting effect on us.

It is hard to differentiate between anxiety and phobia. We all have some or the other kind of fear and concern. Dental Treatment is good for you and your health so there has to be no fear or concern related to it. However if you are one amongst those who suffer from either of the two conditions then make sure that you tell your dentist about it so that he/she can take precaution while performing any treatment.