Healthy Asians & Pacific Islanders Medical Center Logo

I Have Dental Phobia: Can You Help?

Sep 02, 2023
If you’re afraid of going to the dentist, all is not lost. We can help you work through your fear, so you can get the dental treatment you need. Read on to find out how!

Think about your dentist for a minute. They’re probably a pretty nice person, right?

That may be true, but if you have dental phobia, you have trouble even getting to the office no matter how nice your dentist is. This means you end up avoiding them, and this can lead to severe dental problems down the road. 

Here at Tropical Dental Care, our expert team can help you deal with your dental phobia. Here’s how. 

What is dental phobia?

Many people may occasionally be a little anxious about going to the dentist, but it’s not an overriding concern in their life. A dental phobia, however, is a much stronger form of fear. Phobias are actually classified as an anxiety disorder — they can cause extreme distress that affects your daily life.

Dental phobia is usually caused by a past traumatic experience with a dentist. Maybe you had a procedure that caused a lot of pain, or maybe the dentist or hygienists were unkind and rude. You may also be worried about bad news regarding your oral health — you think the dentist is going to find something terribly wrong. 

Dental phobia is indeed a real condition. About 36% of people in the U.S. have a fear of dental treatment, with 12% having an extreme fear.

How can you help someone with dental phobia?

While phobias can be difficult to overcome, a couple of strategies can help you work through your fear to complete a dental appointment.

Exposure therapy is a technique that involves gradually working up to a regular dental appointment. You start by visiting the dentist’s office without getting an exam; you can just sit in the waiting room for a few minutes to get a feel for the place before you go home. On the next visit, you can get an X-ray, and then the next time a partial exam, until you’re comfortable coming in for an entire cleaning and exam.

Many dentists also offer sedation dentistry to promote relaxation and calmness as you visit the dentist. Various options include:

  • Nitrous oxide (laughing gas): You inhale this gas through a mask to help you relax. You can drive home after this treatment.
  • Oral sedation: You take a pill 40 minutes to an hour before your procedure. You’ll be conscious during your visit, but may not be completely aware of your surroundings. You’ll need a ride home.
  • IV sedation: Medication is delivered straight into your bloodstream. You are conscious, but may fall asleep, and you’ll need a ride home.

During one of your exposure therapy visits, the dentist and their team will be able to talk with you about your sedation dentistry options so they can develop a custom plan for you.

Your oral health is important, so now that you’re aware of how we can deal with your dental phobia, it may be worth calling Tropical Dental Care in Tomball, Texas, to talk further. You can contact our office at 281-524-3399 or use our online appointment request form to secure a time to meet.