Iatrophobia is more commonly known as a fear of doctors and it’s actually a very common condition among many adults and children alike. You may find it hard to believe but a lot of people don’t really like going to the doctor… but why is that? Is it the long waits in the cold waiting rooms, the possibility of receiving bad news, or the chances that you’ll endure a painful procedure during your visit? The answer to that question is different for different people.
One thing that’s pretty safe to say with fears of doctors and the visits associated with them is the fear of the unknown. There have been plenty of instances where a person will go to the doctor for a regular checkup and get alarming news that they weren’t expecting to receive. It’s instances like that, that can make anyone be afraid to go back to the doctor out of fear of getting even more bad news, which leads to iatrophobia.
The fear of dentists seems to be more severe than the fear of going to the doctor. Fear of the dentist is called dentophobia.
You Have Dentophobia and Anxiety… What’s the Difference Between the Two?
It’s pretty normal for people to have anxiety before going to the dentist so how can you tell when a typical fear of the dentist has turned into a full-blown phobia? It’s actually somewhat difficult to tell the difference. Dentophobia occurs right along with iatrophobia and has the same types of triggers as iatrophobia.
With anxiety, you are afraid and nervous about going to the dentist but you will still go. With dentophobia, you will put off going to the dentist for years. Colgate.com highlights a survey done by the British Dental Health Foundation. It found that 36% of Americans that didn’t go see the dentist regularly stated that it was because of fear. That fear has ultimately led people to deal with unsightly teeth, pain, and gum disease.
What Causes Dentophobia?
For most people, the causes of dentophobia occur due to prior traumatic dental visits, which can range from procedural complications to painful procedures. Dentists will typically numb the gums before starting a procedure by way of using a needle… a lot of patients are afraid of the pain that needle will bring even though it’s used to reduce the pain of the actual procedure.
Now, fear of the dentist isn’t only caused by direct experiences. Some people have a fear of the dentist based on indirect experiences. A person could be at the dentist waiting to get called back and see a patient leaving with a mouth full of gauze… that image can trigger immense fear. A person could also simply hear about someone else’s traumatic dentist experience and it triggers their own fear.
How to Treat Dentophobia
For those who have dentophobia, this condition could be deeply rooted from an experience as a child that continued into adulthood. Now that you’re an adult with a child of your own, you don’t want to set that type of example for your child. can So can you manage your child’s anxiety for the dentist when you have your own fear of the dentist that you’re dealing with?
Well, for starters, you want to find dentists with gentle and personalized care. These types of dentists ease the fears of patients by explaining the procedures in calming ways to ease a patient’s fear of the unknown. This will instill a patient’s trust in that dentist and make it a little bit easier for them to go to the dentist.
There are also relaxation techniques that patients can do among themselves to reduce fear and anxiety such as deep breathing techniques. Some dentists also give patients the option of “happy gas” and will even prescribe medications such as Xanax or Valium prior to a dental procedure. This allows the patient to feel at ease and still be responsive and alert to communicate with the dentist regardless of if they have dentophobia.
Now, some patients prefer sedation dentistry. If patients have the option to be sleep during the procedure, they would much rather do that. It’s easier to deal with the pain that comes afterward than have to actually be awake and see the tools and not know what the dentist is going to do with those tools.
We all, of course, know that going to the dentist is important to our overall health but with conditions like dentophobia can make it quite difficult to do. So, in combination with the above treatment options, there are some things you can bring to appointments to help you get through your appointment.
- Bring a stress ball to squeeze during moments of pain.
- Bring a friend or family member to hold your hand (if your dental office approves).
- Listen to your favorite type of music.
If you have dentophobia, you’re not alone. Just know that there are treatment options out there for you as well as things you can do on your own to help you get through… it starts with you wanting help.