The Cleveland Clinic states that about 36% of people in the US fear dentists, or what we call in the industry dental fear.
In approximately 12% of these cases, the fear reaches extreme levels.
And around 3% of adults in industrialized countries experience a dental phobia so severe they avoid the dentist at all costs.
So, don’t worry. You’re not alone in this.
With that in mind, let’s figure out why this fear exists and how we can help.
Anxiety vs. fear vs. phobia
You may hear the terms dental anxiety, dental fear, and dental phobia used interchangeably by those who dread going to the dentist. However, there’s a slight difference between them.
With dental anxiety, you may get extremely nervous when you think about going to the dentist and while in the office, even for standard preventative care.
Bear in mind that people without true dentophobia may sometimes experience dental anxiety, such as when a new procedure or sedation is needed.
Dental fear is fear of the dentist or specific dental treatment. A person with dental fear usually can precisely what about that specific dental experience evokes fright in them. Compared to an actual dental phobia, dental fear isn’t as severe.
On the other hand, a dental phobia is an intense fear of the dentist, usually an exaggerated or irrational one. Individuals with dental phobia are the most likely to avoid dental care, but that isn’t true in all cases.
Causes of dental fear
The cause of dental fear, anxiety, or phobia varies from patient to patient.
For instance, a person may have had a bad experience at the dentist. The dentist may have:
- Done a bad job
- Humiliated the patient
- Caused the patient extreme pain or complications
But, sometimes, the fear has nothing to do with a previous experience at the dentist and may come from a history of abuse.
A dental phobia may co-occur with other phobias, a substance abuse issue, or an anxiety or panic disorder.
Someone may struggle with being vulnerable at the dentist, such as when a dentist performs a procedure that requires their mouth to remain open. The person may have had a family member or friend with dental fear so that they might mirror those feelings.
The sights, sounds, smells, or tastes associated with going to the dentist can also sometimes trigger a patient’s anxiety or fear, like the sound of the drill, the taste of the fluoride, or the view of the instruments.
How we help with dental fear
At Canyon View Dental, we want to see people throughout Hamilton, MT, and the surrounding regions get the care they need despite dental fears. That’s why we encourage you to ask any questions you may have, and we’ll make sure to answer them in a way that would put your mind at ease.
We’re a judgment-free practice, and our priority is to help you achieve optimal oral health, whether you’ve always brushed, flossed, and visited the dentist regularly or haven’t seen a dentist in years.
Plus, we believe in building close patient relationships and even offer the option of sedation dentistry.
We’re conveniently located in Hamilton, MT, but we also welcome patients from nearby areas like Missoula, Anaconda, Butte, and Orchard Homes!