Do You Have “Fear of the Dentist” Syndrome?
by Jackie Foskett, CH
Does fear keep you or someone you know from receiving regular dental care? As a long time Registered Dental Hygienist, I have heard this reason many times from patients who have neglected their dental care. Various studies suggest that anywhere from 10-20% of the population stay away due to anxiety or fear of the dentist.
Unfortunately, neglecting dental care not only has negative oral health implications such as badly decayed teeth and gum disease, it can play a role in more serious medical problems. Recent studies have linked gum disease (periodontal disease) with heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, premature births and low birth weights.
Inflammation and the Immune System
It’s all about inflammation and the biochemical mechanisms of that inflammation in the circulatory system. The bacteria in the mouth under the gumline produce toxins that can set up an inflammatory response. This inflammatory response produces various biochemicals that have a negative impact on the immune system and contribute to the body’s inability to function optimally, which can lead to some serious health problems.
It’s All Connected
You know that old song that goes something like “the hambone’s connected to the hipbone, the hipbone’s connected to the thighbone and so on”, well, the mouth is connected to the rest of the body!! There is a tendency to think “it’s just my teeth”. This can be harmful thinking. Getting regular dental care to remove sources of decay and bacterial infections, as well as treating gum inflammation, is an important part of overall healthcare.
If anxiety or fear of dental treatment is keeping you from taking control of your healthcare, besides for finding a dentist that uses “laughing gas” or conscious IV sedation, which are both acceptable methods to treat dental anxiety, consider using hypnosis.
How Hypnosis Can Help
Hypnosis can work in 2 ways. First, through hypnotherapy, you can release the fear associated with either a past dental fear, perceived dental fear from negative stories heard from others’ experiences, or from feelings of helplessness and loss of control. Secondly, you will learn relaxation techniques or self-hypnosis to use while in the dental office. This gives numerous benefits since relaxation, as opposed to fear, produces endorphins, the feel good hormones. These hormones assist in the relaxation process. And when mind and body are relaxed, sensations, such as a dental team member working in your mouth, are perceived more favorably. Additionally, when fear and anxiety are removed and an anesthetic is needed, it will be work more readily and optimally, requiring less time in the chair and a much more pleasant experience for all.
Get Support in Releasing Dental Fear
Getting rid of dental fear is more than “just about your teeth”. It’s really about your general health and overall well being. If you are one of that 10-20% of the population avoiding dentistry because of “fear of the dentist”, find someone to assist you in releasing these fears and anxieties. You will be taking care of YOU very profoundly. Step under that Umbrella of Commitment, you deserve it!