Possibly you've experienced a sense of uneasiness about a scheduled dental appointment, or maybe you feel terrified at the thought of visiting the dentist. Other indicators of dental fear or phobia include:
If the thought of visiting the dentist makes you cringe, you're not alone. It's estimated that at least 10-15% of Americans avoid the dentist due to fear and anxiety.
If you're like most people, the cause of your dental fear is a past traumatic dental experience, typically occurring at an early age. For example, having experienced:
Aside from traumatic dental experiences, there are other factors that contribute to dental anxiety, which include:
Obviously, avoiding the dentist is not a good long-term solution, especially since minor dental concerns can develop into more severe problems over time. Furthermore, new research draws a connection between dental problems and other health problems such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and complications with pregnancy.
The difference between a stressful situation and a traumatic experience is that trauma overwhelms you and thus easily becomes "stuck" in your nervous system. So if you've experienced a past traumatic dental experience (or other related trauma), the unresolved feelings and symptoms from that experience can easily get re-activated when you're visiting, or even planning to visit, the dentist.
Fortunately, there are ways to address dental fears. In the work that I do, my goals are to help you to:
The first goal is to release any old traumas that are fueling your dental fear. For this, I use EMDR ( Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), which is a therapy approach used to overcome the challenging impact of trauma, anxiety, fear, and phobia. EMDR has successfully been used in the counseling and therapy field for over 20 years.
The second goal is to release any "triggers" that increase your dental fear, anxiety, or phobia. Examples include:
The third goal is to establish a positive template around your next dental visit. EMDR can be used to strengthen important resources, or skills, including:
Once you have established these important resources, they can be drawn upon to establish a new, positive template of how you will look, feel, act, think, and behave the next time you are at the dentist.
To view clinical research on the effectiveness of EMDR for Dental Phobia, please click the following link:
For many, dental fear, anxiety, and phobia can seem insurmountable. In many instances though, this problem is the result of specific past traumas. In these cases, addressing these traumas and triggers as well as developing a positive template can help to increase confidence and comfort around your dental experience.
Office located in NW Portland, Oregon. Serving the Portland metro area, including Beaverton, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Tigard, West Linn, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Tualatin, Gresham, and Vancouver, WA.