Dental phobias and fears
Dental phobia is the pathological interpretation of the fear of dentistry. However, many experts have called it unreasonable and never reached the level of mental disorder, so we may come across a new definition of this term very soon. The primary reason behind developing this phobia is the first hand experience. Generally, people experience a hard time at a dentist’s clinic. Their tryst with dentistry begins with pain and trauma and for the rest of their lives they relate their dental health with the experience they had at first time. This mania is psychological to a large extent. The nature of dentist contributes to this fear as well. If the patients perceive the dentist as cold, detached or not caring enough, they are found to develop these fears. On the contrary if the dentist is warm and starts treatment with personal touch, patients do not develop the fear even if the experience had been a painful one. Another reason behind development of such fear is the indirect experience. If you happen to learn or see some acquaintance undergoing severe pain during or after the session with dentist, your sub conscious mind develops a fear for it. This is called vicarious learning where you learn and retain some behavior that you have observed in others. Often dentistry has been portrayed wrongfully by the media which resulted in its traumatic and painful impression. Cartoons printed in newspapers and journals have always propagated the idea that dentists are the evils and visiting them with an aching tooth is the most painful and difficult task.
To treat this fear, there are pharmacological as well behavioral therapies which are used depending upon the intensity of the dental fear. If the dentist speaks in soft language and praises the patient, he or she gets relaxed beforehand. When the patient is dental phobic, it is the doctor’s responsibility to convince that he will immediately stop when patient asks him to. The sense of helplessness ignites the fear and the feeling that he has the power, lessens it.
There are few common dental fears. Fear of pricking needles, apprehending embarrassment, your dentist or dentists in general, choking, drilling and many more are to name just a few. Often patients suffer from the fear of losing control. This mainly happens due to prior painful experience where doctor had continued with his task even when he was asked to. This is common among people who are habituated of staying in controlled situations or control the situation themselves.
Basically, as long as dentists stay on earth, dental phobias would exist as well. Whatever be the reasons and treatments, they are not disorders. A little counseling and doctors’ attitude can help the phobics to overcome this fear. Patients need to know that dentists are there to cure their pain not to enhance it. This would make the next visit to the dental clinic a pleasant one, both for the dentist and the patient with dental phobia.
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