Is dental anxiety, dental fear, and dental phobia essentially the same thing? That's what I want to explain here in more detail, there are some slight differences.
Anxiety involves apprehension about a situation, it is not usually about something that is happening, but about something due to happen in the future. For the majority of the population, a visit to the dentist does invoke some feelings of anxiety regarding your upcoming appointment.
Beyond anxiety, fear is usually a result of exposure to situations that are either real or imagined. A dental patient who has had a previous bad experience at a dentist, may well develop a fear of dentists as a result. This fear is normal, you are facing a situation that previously didn't go well, it is a bit scary. No one should feel silly about being fearful in situations like that, it is completely normal.
A phobia is a form of fear that cannot be controlled voluntarily. Phobias create feelings that are out of proportion to the actual situation. Using reasoning to overcome phobias becomes difficult, if not impossible. As a result, individuals usually resort to avoidance strategies, trying to avoid completely, the feared situation.
At the Dental Lounge, we see the whole range of dentally nervous patients, ranging from anxiety and fear, through to true dental phobics. Fortunately, through a combination of our approach to dentistry and our atmosphere, we are able to help many anxious and fearful dental patients become capable of receiving dental treatment without any additional medications. We have essentially helped them overcome their fears.
Of course, for truly dental phobic patients we do offer twilight sedation and treatment under general anaesthetic in a hospital setting.
For many dental phobic patients, the hardest part is picking up the phone to call or reaching out for help. Many patients tell us they feel embarrassed or ashamed about their fear. Please rest assured that we have designed the practice to help people like you and we will never judge you as we understand that you can’t help the way that you feel. May I recommend writing down all your fears and concerns before phoning or before attending your first appointment so that in the moment you can remember anything that you needed to let us know. All of the dentists and staff here are happy to listen to your concerns and work at your pace, whatever that may be. We want you to feel that you are in control, at all times.