Odontophobia

One of my greatest fears is to go to a dentist. What I do, I just take very good care of my teeth to avoid the need of consulting a dentist. But, recently, I’m having a pain in my gums that I cannot understand much less do something about. How do I conquer my fear of dentists? – Lydia Genaro of Las Piñas City

You may be suffering from what is called odontophobia, or fear of dentistry in general. Unless your fear is rooted in a traumatic childhood experience. It is possible that you had a painful episode involving a dentist and, perhaps, your parents used that dentist to scare you to submission. I had a patient like that before. Just so she’d obey her mother’s wishes, the latter would say, “If you don’t follow me, I’ll bring you to that dentist!”

Generally, however, it is understandable that most of us have some reservations about going to the dentist because dentists usually conjure the image of pain in our mind. But then, getting a dental check-up ideally once every six months (or twice yearly) is an integral part of total health care. I don’t intend to scare you but recent studies have linked periodontal disease to a wide variety of chronic diseases, including heart disease, strokes, and type 2 diabetes. In other words, odontophobia can have very serious health implications.

By the way, I’d like to tell you that, if you’re just afraid of the potential pain that may go with your dental appointment, drop by any of our Dental Focus branches (There is one in Southmall in Las Piñas City) and you are sure to be in for a pleasant surprise.

Truth is, things don’t hurt anymore. Anesthesia has become much more effective, and patients don’t have to experience the pain that used to be common in dental procedures.

Meanwhile, the following tips on how to ease angst about dentists, which we got from Kimberly A. Harms, DDS, consumer advisor for the American Dental Association, may prove helpful to you.

First, know if you’re an early bird or a late riser. Schedule your dental appointments during the time of day that’s best for you. Come in the morning if you’re a morning person, or late in the afternoon if you’re an evening person. You’ll be in a better mood and better frame of mind.

Also, prepare the night before. Get a good night’s sleep. If you have trouble sleeping the night before a visit, it may be advisable to consult your doctor about taking a sleep aid.

Still according to Dr. Harms, it is helpful to talk a lot about your fear. Like, for instance, you can make a list of what it is that bothers you about going to the dentist – whether it’s fear of painful procedures or lack of control over what’s going on – and then talk about it with your family and friends and, most especially, with your dentist. “The most important thing you can do is communicate with everyone, right from the beginning,” says Dr. Harms.

Communicating with your dentist goes a long way toward establishing a relationship that is more than just professional. When you begin to feel that your dentist is a friend, you also begin to trust her, which also goes a long way to alleviating your fears.

Research from a blog by Emily Main

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