Believe it or not we have already reached the milestone blog #13 in our ongoing series! Naturally, this begs the question – do you have Triskaidekaphobia? Don’t know what that is? It’s fear of the number 13 of course! It seemed like a humorous and fitting way to begin a conversation about a more common fear that some may experience – Dentophobia, or fear of dentists.
Now who would be afraid of me, or indeed dentists in general? We are genuinely caring people who want only the best for you and your teeth! Dentists sometimes get a bad rap so today the Brinkley Team would like to talk a little bit about the normal and natural fear of Dentists and what to do about it so that your fear doesn’t impact overall tooth health.
Some estimates place fear of dentists amongst the general population at as high as 75%. Adults and children both are susceptible and part of the problem may lie in misunderstanding, a general lack of knowledge or came as a direct result of a traumatic experience. In what sometimes becomes a vicious cycle, people with a particularly powerful form of dentophobia avoid routine dental care at all costs. As a result, they may then find they need emergency (and perhaps extensive) dental care that in turn only reinforces their fear. In the case of the Dentist, two old sayings come to mind: “Ignorance is Bliss” and “Knowledge is Power.” Let’s debunk the first and talk about why the second is so important in helping you or a loved one conquer fear.
“Ignorance is Bliss” seems to have come about as a general and largely “North Americanized” attitude that it is sometimes better to know less about a subject, particularly if it is distasteful or may cause undue anxiety were the whole truth to be known. In the case of dental care however, the Brinkley team firmly believes that the more you know about what to expect while visiting the dentist, the better able you will be to understand and cope with the visit. For example, many patients fear the noises they hear while at the office. Dentists use a variety of tools that make all manner of noise. To those in the waiting room who don’t know or understand what they are listening to – these can sound intimidating. However, if you hear the soft whirring noise of the ultrasonic machine and understand it is simply a tool we employ to help clean your teeth, it becomes less likely you would fear it. The same can be said for most of the implements you are likely to come across while in the dentists chair.
Additionally, many dental offices (ours included) now know and recognize that dentophobia is a legitimate concern of our patients and we are more than willing to work together with you to make your visit as comfortable as possible. Many offices now offer special glasses to protect the patient from the bright lamps we must use to see properly. Headphones and listening to music are options for patients who just can’t get past the “noise” of the office. TV’s in treatment rooms, even video gaming systems in some offices, all act as great distractions for younger patients. Some clinics offer specialized treatment rooms just for children and there is sleep dentistry for those who truly find it a challenge to overcome their fear.
The most important thing that we like to emphasize is education and familiarity. The real “trick” to overcoming fear is to understand it. Start your child off on the right foot by having them visit the dentist from a very young age as we have discussed in previous blogs. They can accompany you on your visit. Allow them to explore the office and to ask questions. Pick up a good book from your local library about visiting the dentist so that the “mystery” of what goes on here is removed. If coming to the dentist is a regular occurrence for your family, it is far less likely that you will develop a fear in the first place. As for triskaidekaphobia what can we say? Book all your appointments before or after the 13th of the month!