I just came across this word ‘dentaphobia’ and could not resist a smile.  As humans we seem to love to create fancy sounding words!  It is defined as:

Dentophobia is the fear of dentist. The origin of the word Dento is Latin (meaning tooth or teeth) and phobia is Greek (meaning fear). Dentophobia is considered to be a specific phobia Dentophobia is also linked to Odontophobia (Fear of teeth or dental surgery). Phobia is often referred to as an irrational fear.

Having spent much of my working life studying this subject, I have discovered that fear and/or anxiety that arises in a person in reaction to dentistry or dental treatment is actually a manifestation of an unresolved trauma.  The fear or anxiety is around the subject where the trauma occurred but is not necessarily the core of the fear.  This means  two things for dentophobia.  First it is NOT an irrational fear but actually a quite understandable fear in the context of the trauma.  And secondly it is not directly related to the dentist but to a sense of extreme lack of safety created by the trauma.  Therefore, it is neither dento nor phobia and that is what prompted the smile.

So what is it really?

I will define what is called dental phobia as follows:

So called Dental phobia or Dental Anxiety is a valid normal physiological (body/mind/emotion) response in a healthy human being to an unresolved past trauma, related to and triggered by a frightening or terrifying dental experience.  Although labelled as a phobia, it is not at all irrational when understood and the degree of anxiety relates directly to the intensity of the original experience. It is, like all phobias and anxieties, completely healable.

It can often have a specific reference to where the trauma happened e.g., a fear of dentist needles will result where the trauma was related to the use of a needle during an injection.  Other traumas may relate to the treatment or pain around a rotten or decayed tooth.  Being scared of the dentist always has a very valid reason from the point of view of the one who was traumatised. Sometimes even the sight of a bad tooth tooth will trigger the traumatic memory.  Many traumas will occur around the noise or sensation of a drill which was associated with severe pain. sometimes it can be a smell that triggers the memory and anxiety.  Sometimes it is a combination of many factors.

Although dentist anxiety medication can seem like a good idea in the short term, it does not ever solve the problem.  Its like using alcohol to go on a date.  The issue is hidden but not solved.  To solve the issue we must go deeper and so this deeper approach is the best treatment for dealing with dental anxiety. 

It is absolutely possible to overcome all of it and have an easy relationship with dentistry and the dentist. To achieve this, you need a new perspective and a new understanding. Dental phobia in adults and dental phobia in children are similar in nature but need different approaches is solving them. 

To understand the causes, we need to explain how the body/mind/emotion system works and that is the first part of the solution to the problem. As we go into detail about the mechanism of how dental phobia and anxiety is produced you will begin to notice the pennies drop and you will get many ‘aha’ realisations.  The underlying method that I use is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy methodology often referred to as CBT.

My method is a combination of Mindfulness, Neuroscience  and a Cognitive Behavioural theoretical under-pinning to go deeply to the core of the trauma.

This is the best and most comprehensive treatment for dental phobia and anxiety. I call this the  Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavioural Anxiety Solution for Dental Fear and it is unique to Dental Health Synergy.

The good news is that all these issued can be treated and resolved.

Dr. Philip Christie M.Dent.Sc., M.A. (CBT)

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