Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety or dentophobia is defined as a fear of going to the dentist. This phobia, like all phobias is not just a mild unease at thinking of dental treatments, but a crippling fear that renders the patient physically quite unable to go to the dentists office at all. So this is not just an issue of “I am afraid to go and will not book” but one that sounds more like “I cannot go, despite the fact that I have a toothache”. Dental anxiety can manifest itself in many ways, and although some patients do make it into the actual office, but they are completely paralyzed by fear when they are there, and the dentist frequently cannot get anything done.

Secondary side effects

Despite crippling fear and the usual physical symptoms associated with it, like sweaty palms, the shakes, erratic heartbeat, others can also manifest themselves. One common one is that everything makes the patient gag. Gagging even when there is nothing to irritate the throat or the uvula is quite common, and is usually caused by people fear, pure and simple. It is a way the body tries to fight what is happening even after the mind has rationalized that there is nothing to be afraid of. Another common problem is claims of pain. The patient is actually feeling pain, even though more sedative has been used than is necessary. The problem is that while the patient does not actually feel the sensations (as in the nerves are not transmitting information to the brain), the patient still “feels” the pain because the brain is generating the signals, thus pain is actually felt.

dentalchair

How to treat dental anxiety

If you really want to treat your phobias, you have a long and arduous road ahead of you that will go all through yourself, in places that you have never even imagined existed. You will have to face why you are afraid of the dentist, why you are afraid of them, and probably have to reconcile the findings with your awake, rational self.

Until then (and this process may take years of gradual change), you can take anti-anxiety medication to help calm your nerves. If you are calm, you will be less likely to feel pain and the need to gag, as your brain will be repressed. If you only use the medication while you are at the dentist (every six months), then it should not be possible for you to develop an addiction, either. Beware though, and make sure that you do not take one that thins out your blood, or you will bleed all over the place during dental treatment. This is the reason that alcohol is not used as an anti-anxiety medication when going to the dentist, as it makes for unnecessary amounts of blood. The most important thing is to get relaxed, and to be able to put yourself somewhere else mentally, this way, you will feel less fear and will be able to more or less ignore the entire fiasco.

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