Over 2.5 million people in the UK suffer from dental phobia – or to give it its proper name – dentophobia. Around 1 in 23 people experience this type of fear. Whilst most phobias can be cured with professional help, only about 20% of phobias disappear without any assistance at all.
Our dentists recognise that everyone’s phobias are different, but these trained clinicians can offer a variety of treatments suitable to each person’s needs. A popular method for dealing with a phobia is to completely face it – with the support of professional help. Known as ‘exposure treatment’, it involves the patient imagining a list of things or situations that contribute to their phobia. Whilst focussing on their scariest fear, they practice a series of breathing and relaxation techniques.
There are several alternative treatments available too, such as hypnosis or NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) – whereby identifying which trigger words can help patients adapt their mind frame to respond in a healthier manner. But many dentists practice a number of techniques that treat their anxiety, rather than the phobia itself. For example, if a patient is reluctant to be operated on by use of a dental drill, it is possible to find a dentist who practices air abrasion techniques. This is a quieter and more comfortable method.
Should sedation and a numbing gel be more appropriate, these also prove to be helpful with phobic patients, but ultimately it is up to each individual what treatment works best for them. With the dental environment filled with numerous stimuli, such as sounds, sights and smells – it is possible that any one of those can trigger a phobia.