When you think about the most common fears people have, things like snakes, spiders, heights, and confined spaces come to mind. But another common phobia that many people have involves going to the dentist.
Millions of people are afraid of dentists – but why?
4 Reasons People Are Afraid of Dentists
People are afraid of going to the dentist for a number of reasons. However, the reality is that almost all of these fears are rooted in myths or exaggerations.
Let’s check out some of the top fears and why they simply aren’t valid.
1. Lack of Trust
At the very heart of the average person’s fear of the dentist is a lack of trust. Many people have had bad experiences with dentists in the past or have no relationship with a dentist. Either way, this makes the patient feel vulnerable and unwilling to participate.
The solution to this issue is to find a dentist that you can trust. There are plenty of them, and you shouldn’t have to visit a practice you don’t like. According to EDP Dental Plan, there are quite a few options for finding a dentist you can trust.
- Ask around. The best way to find a good dentist is to ask your friends, family, and coworkers for recommendations. After all, if the people you trust provide you with a suggestion, you’re much more likely to feel comfortable with that dentist.
- Consider expertise. Are you looking for a highly personal experience? Do you want to get in and out? Do you want a place your kids will feel comfortable? Every practice is different, so find a dentist that meets your criteria.
- Vet online. Finally, do research online. There are plenty of sites that feature reviews, recommendations, and warnings. This information should put you at ease.
A lack of trust can be a huge factor in your fear of going to the dentist. Think about these tips and find one you can trust.
2. Biological Survival Mechanisms
Did you know that there are actually biological reasons for fearing the dentist? Since we receive several basic needs from our mouth – food, water, and air – it’s considered a very vulnerable part of the body. As such, we have deep biological survival mechanisms that are triggered when danger is perceived in this area.
In order to overcome this survival mechanism, you must continually tell yourself that there is no threat. Consciously repeating this truth will allow your mind relax a little.
3. Feeling of Helplessness
Of people who fear the dentist, the majority are what we would call “control freaks.” These are people with obsessive-compulsive tendencies and they happen to feel weak when they find themselves at the dentist.
“Reclining in a dental chair can be hard enough because a prone patient is more helpless,” says Ida Korneliussen of ScienceNordic. “Some people have suffered traumatic experiences, which intensify these feelings. In particular, people who have been subjected to abuse or torture will often be left with a much greater need to feel in control.”
Really, the only way to overcome this fear is to establish trust. It’s up to the dentist or hygienist to portray a comfortable bedside manner. This is why it’s so important to choose a dentist you can trust.
4. Disdain for Pain
While fear of the dentist is experienced in a number of different ways, one of the most common causes in both adults and children is the fear of needles and pain. This is why an entire dentistry niche involving sedation has popped up in recent years. People simply can’t stand the thought of a needle entering their mouth.
The best thing you can do is let the dentist know that you’re weary of needles. This will encourage them to establish a comfortable environment in which they aren’t waving the needle around or openly discussing what’s about to happen. Since the anticipation of getting a shot is much worse than the actual sensation, a good dentist will be a bit sneaky with the needle.
Don’t Let the Dentist Scare You
If you’re afraid of going to the dentist, then you probably suffer from one of the fears highlighted in this article. The good news is that most of these fears can easily be overcome by choosing to focus on the positives and ignoring the myths and false narratives that are so pervasive.
You should visit the dentist every six months – or at least once per year. By ignoring this advice and only going when you experience pain, you’re much more likely to form negative associations with the dentist office. On the other hand, if you go for regular checkups, you’ll realize that there really isn’t much to be afraid of. You may actually learn to enjoy the feeling of cleanliness that accompanies a dental appointment.