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Submitted by: Chris Dodson
The fear of dentists is called by various names: dental phobia, odontophobia, dentophobia, dentist phobia, or dental anxiety. I prefer to use the word dentophobia, and it is a fairly common malady. Some would go see a dentist only after a severe toothache or infection. Needless to say, this prevents them from seeking appropriate dental consultation that could have saved their tooth. So many people who have dentophobia could have better teeth if only they could overcome their fear.
Specialized clinics that cater for patients with excessive dentophobia are very rare. Dentists who like to help their patients with dentophobia use psychological techniques to help them overcome their fears.
The most common technique, which is even used by dentists who simply don t want to smother their patients, is to have a dental chair that reclines to simulate lying on a bed in order to relax the patients. Relaxation is a great antidote to fear. Many of our fears are caused by excessive fatigue. Hence giving patients time to rest while they are undergoing dental treatment is probably the best way to overcome dentophobia. Many dental chair manufacturers have evolved their chair design to make patients feel comfortable while undergoing treatment. Treating patients at home is simply a way of increasing dental phobias. Most patients prefer going to a dental office rather than being treated at home.
Because dentophobia is quite prevalent, some dental writers have written books about it. P. Milgrom, P. Weinstein and T. Getz have collaborated to write an authoritative manual about it entitled Treating Fearful Dental Patients: A Patient Management Handbook (2nd Edition) published by the University of Washington s Continuing Dental Education. There is no end to topics when it comes to dentistry and dentists.
For patients who want to overcome their dentophobia, gradual exposure-therapy is usually employed. This involves exposing patients to repeated perceived dangers until they lose all their fears about it. Using a reward and punishment method, patients are rewarded when they show they can control their fear, or punished when they cannot control their fears. This is a drastic way of overcoming dentophobia but many people who would like to overcome their anxiety about dentists and dental treatment would be happy to undergo such treatment if it means getting rid of those fears.
Many progressive clinics realize that making the dental visit pleasant could reduce dentophobia to a great extent. Therefore they train their dentists to be particularly cognizant of such details. Dental companies that hire plenty of dentists train these dentists not to subject their patients to traumatic dental experiences. It not only reduces dentophobia, but also increases their profits, simultaneously making their dentists and their patients happy.
Other dental clinics just simply use pharmacological methods to cure or reduce the incidence of dentophobia. Psychological therapeutic methods are expensive and cannot be afforded by many dental patients they need a quick solution and the pharmaceutical companies can provide them with that.
Nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas ) is one of the most commonly used methods, which helps patients to relax while undergoing dental treatment. It is breathed in by patients and has immediate effect. Sometimes dentists use an oral sedative which helps patients calm their nerves while getting treatment, but unlike nitrous oxide, an oral sedative takes time to take effect.
Dentophobia will always be a problem in dental clinics but dental manufacturers and dentists are doing their best to find solutions to dentophobia trouble so that patients can enjoy better dental health something that is hindered when patients are fearful of visiting a dentist.
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