How Dental Phobia Affects Oral Health

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Defining Dental Phobia

It’s natural for people to have some sort of fear at least once in their lifetime, but there are some people that have serious phobias about specific things, such as going to the dentist. A phobia is best described as fears or anxiety relating to a specific situation or object. People with phobias have reactions that are highly intense and disproportionate to the actual situation, causing them to avoid the situation, which ultimately affects their normal daily functioning.

Unfortunately, dental phobias are amongst the most common phobias that people in America suffer from. In fact, 8-12% of phobias affect adults in the U.S. population. Dental phobias typically include fear of blood, dental procedures, needles, surgery, hospitals, and medical personnel. At McBride Dental, we understand how nerve-wracking a visit to the dentist can be, and we offer a variety of anxiety-relieving options to help you relax during your dental appointment.

How Dental Phobia Affects Patients

Studies show that dental phobias typically start between the ages of 5-9 and continue throughout adulthood. Dental phobia is a severe issue because it prevents adults from receiving the proper dental care that they need. They will avoid going to the dentist for as long as they can, which makes their oral health deteriorate, causing them to need even more intensive dental treatment. Avoiding the dentist ultimately worsens their phobia because they could need serious procedures for even a simple deep cleaning.

People who avoid dental checkups put themselves at risk of developing an oral disease, such as periodontal disease. They could even cause themselves to have more missing or decayed teeth. They might not show up to the dentist unless it’s an extreme emergency, which might require a more traumatic procedure that validates and deepens their dental fears.

How Dental Phobia Affects Oral HealthThe level of stress people with dental phobias experience varies from distressing anxiety to intense panic terror. Sometimes sufferers feel as if they’re about to lose control, do something embarrassing, or lose their life. People experiencing dental anxiety can have physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral responses when they’re at a dentist office. Because anxiety can result in increased pain perception, patients suffering from anxiety tend to feel more pain that lasts longer versus other patients undergoing the same dental procedure but not experiencing anxiety. Unfortunately, this results in longer procedure time and is very stressful for not only the sufferer, but the dentist as well.

If not diagnosed and treated properly, dental anxiety can affect sufferers’ lives in many ways. Studies have found negative physiological, cognitive, and behavioral effects that patients experience. For example, the physiological effects include feelings of exhaustion after leaving the dentist; cognitive effects result to more negative thoughts, beliefs, and fears; and the behavior affects could cause avoidance of the dentist office, as well as a change in eating, oral hygiene, self-medication, crying, and aggression.

Relaxing Dental Office in San Diego

At McBride Dental, we understand how common dental anxiety is amongst children and adults. To help our patients have a beneficial experience and get the oral treatment they need, we offer sedation dentistry to help patients get through their dental appointments. Before offering the treatment, we meet with patients to discuss their anxieties, dental needs, and medical history to assess which type of sedation dentistry will be most beneficial. If you suffer from dental phobias but need dental treatment, call 760-471-1003 to schedule an appointment.

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