Some Causes of Dental Phobia

June 18, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Dental Phobia

  • Bad experiences: Dental phobia is most often caused by bad, or in some cases horrific, dental experiences (studies suggest that this is true for about 80 -85% of dental phobias, but there are difficulties with obtaining representative samples). This not only includes painful dental visits, but also psychological behaviors such as being humiliated by a dentist.
  • A history of abuse: Dental phobia is also common in people who have been sexually abused, particularly in childhood. A history of bullying or having been physically or emotionally abused by a person in authority may also contribute to developing dental phobia, especially in combination with bad experiences with dentists.
  • Non compassionate dentist: It is often thought, even among dental professionals, that it is the fear of pain that keeps people from seeing a dentist. But even where pain is the person’s major concern, it is not pain per se that is necessarily the problem. Otherwise, dental phobics would not avoid the dentist even when in pain from toothache. Rather, it is pain inflicted by a dentist who is perceived as cold and controlling that has a huge psychological impact. Pain inflicted by a dentist who is perceived as caring is much less likely to result in psychological trauma (Weiner et al, 1999).
  • Humiliation: Other causes of dental phobia include insensitive, humiliating remarks by a dentist or hygienist. In fact, insensitive remarks and the intense feelings of humiliation they provoke are one of the main factors which can cause or contribute to a dental phobia. Human beings are social animals, and negative social evaluation will upset most people, apart from the most thick-skinned individuals. If you’re the sensitive type, negative evaluation can be shattering.
  • Vicarious learning: Another cause (which judging by our forum appears to be less common) is observational learning. If a parent or other caregiver is scared of dentists, children may pick up on this and learn to be scared as well, even in the absence of bad experiences. Also, hearing other people’s horror stories about visits to the psychodentist can have a similar effect.
  • Preparedness: Some subtypes of dental phobia may indeed be defined as “œirrational”in the traditional sense. People may be inherently “œprepared” to learn certain phobias, such as needle phobia. For millions of years people who quickly learned to avoid snakes, heights, and lightning (and sharp objects, such as needles, which would not have been sterilized in those days, apart from giving you a nasty sting!) probably had a good chance to survive and to transmit their genes. So it may not take a particularly painful encounter with a needle to develop a phobia.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress: Research suggests that people who’ve had horrific dental experiences (unsurprisingly) suffer from symptoms typically reported by people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is characterized by intrusive thoughts of the bad experience and nightmares about dentists or dental situations.

How is dental phobia measured here in Dr. Salituro’s dental office?

June 18, 2009 by admin  
Filed under Dental Phobia

First and foremost, Dr. Pam Kaczmarek - a licensed clinical professional counselor and Doctor of clinical psychology is the person who oversees administration, interpretation, and design of assessment tools used specifically for Dr. Salituro’s patients. Having a professional counselor on staff who is savvy at working with dental phobic patients is key to a successful treatment plan.

While there are various instruments for researchers which attempt to measure the degree of the fear, such as Corah’s Dental Anxiety Scale (DAS) and a shorter version, the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS), Dr. Kaczmarek prefers to use her own along with a clinical interview which helps her understand the patient’s concerns.

Ask yourself the following question: “Am I terrified of dentists and avoid them at all costs?” If the answer is yes, this is a good indicator of dental phobia! Even seemingly innocuous reminders of anything dental-related may produce a panic-attack if you suffer from dental phobia, such as people talking about dentists or teeth, toothpaste commercials, or “œdental words”. When you’re in the depth of a dental phobia, this cute teddy may strike you as pretty frightening (a dentist in teddy’s clothing) - yet another reminder of your worst nightmare.

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