Dentophobia - Why are you scared of dentists?

Dentophobia or in other words the fear of going to see a dentist, although may seem ridiculous to some, is a very real fear to some and a cause of great psychological stress. People who suffer from this condition have a very strong negative connotation attached to a dental visit. Other related fears are; a phobia of needles, a phobia of doctors, phobia of heights, phobia of spiders, etc.

Where is the root of the problem?

In early years before the advent of anesthetics and pain relievers, any surgical procedure, especially ones where the nerves of the teeth were involved, were horrendously painful. Patients underwent tooth extractions in barbaric ways and with no anesthetics causing anguish to the poor souls being treated. Dental pain is one of the most highly rated pains one can experience, child labor being in a list of its own of course. Dental pain carries a more chronic characteristic and so unlike child labor, lasts a much longer time causing difficulty in feeding and talking in severe cases.

Cocaine, with its strong likelihood to cause dependence, was used in older dental practice as a sedative and pain reliever. Nowadays, however, great leaps in technology and discovery of new agents have seen better instrumentation ushered in and the elimination of pain during a dental procedure altogether.

The root of this phobia may stem from different experiences engrained in various ways into one’s psyche from their early years.

Early childhood experiences that were uncomfortable or caused distress may have shaped these negative connotations attached to seeing a dentist. Feeling immense pain or at times just seeing someone in immense pain at the dentist’s can bring about negative emotions towards dentists causing a child or adult person to avoid dental visits completely.

The mouth, with its close proximity to your windpipe and vital vessels in your neck, is of course not the ideal place one would like sharp pointy needles and instruments prodded and stuck into. This is exactly why it is important to visit a dental hygienist that you have done your research on and trust as an expert in his/her field. Dentist-patient relationships are very important and seeing that it is in their jobs to give beautiful smiles, that they should be good positive ones.


No pain really?

The discovery of substances with anesthetic properties was more than welcomed into dental practice decades ago. Local anesthetics are now readily available and are used to make the area being operated on numb completely. With a small injection into the site and surrounding tissue, the patient soon develops sensory loss in the area, feeling nothing as the dentist does what he does. Local anesthetics wear off quickly after the procedure depending on the amount and concentration used.

If you are afraid of needle pricks, then sedatives are available that help eases anxiety and dampen the body’s natural fight or flight response. General anesthetics are also used nowadays but are mainly reserved for procedures that are more invasive and those that involve multiple nerve roots.


Bottom line is with the advent of humane methods, the discovery of anesthetics and technological advancements, going to the dentist should be a regularly scheduled appointment in your diary and not a date to fear.