Dental Phobia | Fear from DentalTweet
What is Dental Phobia?
Anxiety and aversion connected with dental treatment is prevalent among children and adults alike, with phobia occurring at the extreme end of a scale of common human fears. Fear of dentistry appears to be prevalent in all countries where in depth studies have been carried out. The method of assessment employed is usually some form of ' dental fears' questionnaire and results frequently show a high incidence of anxiety, which can be as great as thirty-six per cent, in those surveyed. The figures for true dental phobia vary somewhat between different surveys but appear to be within the range of three to five per cent for adults and six to seven per cent for children.
Research has shown that dental phobia is a complex condition in which many factors are at work. In common with other phobics, those suffering from dental phobia have a range of negative and/ or catastrophic beliefs about dental procedures. These are not only concerned with aspects of treatment itself, such as expecting to experience painful injections, drilling, extractions, etc, or the belief that anaesthetic will not work, but also fear of panic, losing control or a dread that something terrible will happen. Phobics frequently harbour negative thoughts about dentists themselves, usually based on previous experiences. They may believe that dentists are unfeeling, cold and uncaring and likely to be impatient with adults who are fearful of treatment.
Treatment of Dental Phobia
Dental phobia appears to be a more complex condition than some of the other specific phobias due to the interaction of several different factors, of which the most important are experience and expectation of paint the dentist-patient relationship, beliefs and ability to cope with anxiety. In view of this complexity, treatment methods have to be fairly broadly based and a variety of approaches have been tried.
Many of these are successful although it remains the case that a quarter to a third of patients are not helped by treatment. Both behavioural and cognitive behavioural therapies have been tried. In some cases, these have incorporated relaxation techniques, methods of enhancing self-efficacy (the person/ s self belief in his ability to cope with dental procedures) and control and communication strategies in which the patient is taught signals so that he can easily stop a procedure, or otherwise alert the dentist to any feelings of unease.