Dental phobias are a complex mental health condition that can often be challenging to overcome. When not dealt with, a dental phobia can leave the sufferer unable to seek out routine dental care and, in the long term, this can impact other health conditions. If you live with a dental phobia, it is important to find ways in which to manage your mental health and to seek out treatment using effective dental phobia reversal programs.
Phobias can be debilitating but, typically, dental phobia is not a complication that affects us each and every day. For this reason, individuals who live with dental phobia often do not regularly seek out treatment. If you have an upcoming dental appointment, or if you have avoided dental treatment because of your phobia, seeking out mental health services 3 to 4 months in advance of your treatment needs will be important.
Typically, when living with dental phobia, your mental health professional will use an exposure technique that allows for cognitive behavioral retraining. Because dental phobia is best alleviated by exposure, your therapist will first want to teach you relaxation techniques for dealing with anxiety and other physiological changes that occur when a dental exposure occurs. Once these relaxation techniques are taught, the next step will involve the use of exposure at a controlled and strategic pace.
Exposure to dental treatment may be as simple as just undergoing a dental exam without any form of treatment at all. In this type of arrangement, a dentist may come to your therapist’s office, or you may set an appointment to undergo the exam but typically no x-rays are taken and no other cleanings or treatment is provided. Slowly, as the weeks pass, you will begin to have more and more exposure to the dental office.
If you find that the sounds of a dental office bring about physiological changes in you, including anxiety, then you will want to practice dealing with those noises by obtaining a recording and playing it in your home, creating a white-noise effect. Overtime, these noises will become a normal part of your day and you will not notice them as much when you go to the dental office.
Dental phobia is a type of phobia that must be overcome to ensure you are on the path to a healthy outcome for not only your oral health but also your physical health. Considering finding a therapist that utilizes these strategies as they will provide the best possible outcome for you.
Sources: Anxiety, Phobia, and Panic, by Reneau Peurifoy, pp. 17-19.