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Scientists have Reveled Therapy aimed at Tackling Fear of the Dentist

Updated on January 28, 2016

A dentist at work

A dentist working on a patient
A dentist working on a patient | Source


A dentist at work
A dentist at work | Source

My first Visit to a dentist

The first time I saw a dentist was in high school. I was minding my own business when my tooth started throbbing. I have a natural fear for doctors and decided to manage the pain.

I was in boarding house several miles away from my parents so in my mind a master of my destiny. Being just a fourteen year old you can image my juvenile thoughts.

Interestingly the school was owed by the government and had a functional sickbay and nurse. I chose to ignore the throbbing and used salt water to calm the ache.

This went on for a week when I suddenly woke with a grapefruit sized jaw. Needless to say I was rushed to the dentist in a clinic outside the school.

By no stretch was I a wimpy lad but naturally brave and curious as a cat. The dental session was highly traumatic although quite successful.

After that traumatic episode I have visited the dentist more times than I can remember. My teeth just don’t seem to cooperate and go bad easily.

Many people are familiar with this fear which becomes a crippling phobia. I am much older and can go to the dentist without persuasion but the fear is still real and ever present. So how do you tackle fear of the dentist?

A Frightened Girl

Frightened Girl
Frightened Girl | Source

The mental game

The fear of the dentist starts in the mind of the patient and it’s brought about by images of pain. The mind associates dental practitioners as evil scientist eager to probe deep into your mouth.

The image is reinforced by the surgical mask and shinny instruments that resemble torture devices.

Getting past that pungent image takes a lot of courage and a patient needs to work on his phobia. The person should avoid looking at those instruments of torture and focus on the relief.

Let’s not talk about the dental chair that looks like Frankenstein operation slab.

Dental clinics look bleak

Dental clinics look rather foreboding and offer the patient little comfort. Luckily some clinics have gone the extra mile to make the place friendlier to the eye.

You can now find children’s clinics that look like play grounds with many interesting gismos to distract the frightened child.

A Dental Clinic

Dental clinics look scary. a manikin on a dental chair
Dental clinics look scary. a manikin on a dental chair | Source

Dental Clinic

What is your biggest fear when visiting a dental clinic

See results

Dental Anxiety

Fear of needles

A great fear I still have is fear of needles and even till date I have to be tricked to take a shot. I know for a fact that the initial prick when handled by a professional healthcare worker is totally negligible but the illogical fear still persists.

In dentistry you find the mother of all needles a huge crazy looking hypodermic that seems to grin at your discomfiture. The fear of needle and the drill is a major reason people develop phobia for dentist.

The size of the monster is not the fault of the doctor but necessary for the dentist to kill or deaden the throbbing nerve. The person suffering from such phobia only needs to avoid looking at the needle he will do just find.

It takes less than a minute for the dentist to inject medication into the offending cavity.

Fear of going under

Despite my fear of dentist I have never go under but prefer facing the fear. After the extraction you will be filled with a pride of accomplishment and the next meeting would be even easier.

There is no problem if you prefer to go under but dentist would rather like you awake for the short procedure.

Dental phobia

Dealing with dental phobia
Dealing with dental phobia | Source

Cognitive behavior therapy

A lead researcher Professor Tim Newton of Physiology at kings College London dental institute carried out cognitive behavior therapy on volunteers. The scientists developed a therapy to fight dental phobia called the cognitive behavior therapy. The therapy involves six to ten sessions as a short them treatment of dental phobias.

In the study that evaluated 130 men and woman, average age of 40 with full fledged dental phobia. Many had the usual phobia fear of injections, the chair, the drill and going under.

The therapy is by no means a cure and the anxieties will come back but the patient is better equipped to deal with his next visit to a dentist.

It focused on replacing negative thought with positive thoughts and was amazingly successful with seventy five percent of the test subjects.

The guinea pigs are taught skills to overcome their fears and set them on a gradual road to recovery. The fear of the dentist is in your mind so to conquer it you need to work on those fears.

© 2016 femi


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