What Is a Fear of the Dentist Called?

An extreme fear of the dentist is called odontophobia or dentophobia. If your child gets physically ill, feels extreme dread, or experiences a panic attack at the thought of going to the dentist, he or she may suffer from odontophobia.

Helping your child overcome his or her fear of the dentist is important, as inadequate dental care can cause serious health problems later in life. 

What Causes Fear of Dental Care and Procedures? 

As with other phobias, an extreme fear of the dentist is an irrational fear—but a very real one, causing people to avoid the dentist for years or even decades. Avoiding the dentist for this long can lead to gum infections, pain, tooth decay, and broken or unsightly teeth.

If your child suffers from odontophobia, he or she is not alone. Approximately 9% to 15% of Americans don’t visit the dentist due to fear and anxiety.

So what causes this terrifying feeling? Fear of the dentist develops for many reasons:

  • Helplessness/Loss of Control—People have phobias when they cannot predict what will happen next.
  • PainIn a recent survey, 6% of people reported fear of pain being the primary reason they avoid the dentist.
  • EmbarrassmentSome people have feelings of shame or embarrassment at having a dentist look into their mouth, considering it an intimate part of their body. This feeling may be intensified if they are self-conscious about the look of their teeth.
  • Bad Previous Experience—If a person has experienced pain or discomfort on a previous visit to the dentist, fear can arise from that for all future visits.

Calming Your Child’s Dental Fears

Here are a few steps you can follow to help ease your child’s fears of the dentist:

  1. Ask the dentist to develop a cue with your child that gives him or her an opportunity to stop the procedure if he or she feels uncomfortable.
  2. Request to sit with your child during the examination.
  3. Find ways to distract your child while in the dentist’s chair. For example, have him or her listen to music on headphones during the procedure.
  4. Have your child practice techniques to relax.
  5. Discuss what sedatives are appropriate for your child. While it’s not required for a dentist to perform sedation, there’s a fairly good chance that he or she offers at least one option.

Kool Smiles Dentists Care

Kool Smiles goes above and beyond to make sure your child’s dentist visit is a positive experience. Best of all, Kool Smiles was designed with children in mind, and our staff of dental professionals has experience working with children of all ages.

At Kool Smiles, we look forward to helping your child conquer his or her dental phobia. Give us a call to discuss how we can make your child’s dental visit as enjoyable as possible.

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Sources:

Colgate: http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/dental-visits/article/what-is-dental-anxiety-and-phobia

WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/dont-fear-the-dentist

Harvard Health: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/dental-fear-our-readers-suggest-coping-techniques