What is dental phobia, what are the symptoms and how to overcome the fear of the dentist

An annual check-up and timely, quality dental treatments could save Italy over 9 billion euros per year. This was said by the experts present at the conference of the Italian Society of Periodontology and Implantology (SIdP), held in Rimini.

In fact, according to a recent report by the European Federation of Periodontology, they are spent every year all over the world $544 billion in care to resolve tooth decay or periodontitis that could have easily been prevented.
In Italy it is estimated one average cost per capita in the long term of over 18,000 euros for the treatment of tooth decay or periodontal diseases, which can be avoided with adequate prevention which includes regular check-ups to allow for early treatment. But there is a but. It's big. Many Italians still have fear of the dentist.
Almost two out of three openly fear visits and treatments. Among the greatest fears, discomfort due to posture and the noises of the instruments characteristic of the dental practice. Unfortunately, in the end the losers are prevention and oral health. A study presented at the conference says that in Italy, partly due to fears, only 28% check themselves regularly, while 40% go to the dentist only when they have obvious symptoms.

Why you are afraid and what to do

Recent statistics from the World Health Organization quantify that 10% of the population has a real terror of the anesthesia needle and the noise of the drill. Dental phobiathat is, this situation arises because you are afraid and in some cases this can become a real form of panic that surpasses your ability to self-control.

Fear can arise both for the area that is obviously treated, the mouth, and for the feelings of anxiety that can come from instruments used (for example syringes and needles for injections), both for noises, such as that of the drill, which are produced. In terms of choices, the advice that can be given is to talk about the situation with your general practitioner and do an analysis, even among friends and relatives, to find out how the dentists who treat them operate.

To overcome dental phobia, it is essential that the dentist has developed a particular psychological competence in the relationship with the patient and know how to put him at ease. Furthermore, it is important to remember that forms of anesthesia that are particularly attentive to this situation can be used and to try to organize ourselves to avoid prolonged stops in the waiting room, which can increase anxiety. Finally, it is advisable to also pay attention to the characteristics of the study, which according to some research can also influence the patient's psychological condition.

Any strategy? Operators' coats can help softer colorsthe presence of a music background relaxing capable of attracting attention and “covering up” the noise of the instruments, the use of perfumes that preserve the sense of smell from the acrid odors of disinfectants.

Can nitrous oxide help?

Technically it is called “conscious sedation”. It is the treatment that can be implemented in the dental practice to help overcome anxiety, obtain an anesthetic effect and above all help control the sensation of vomiting. The approach is implemented with the nitrous oxide, discovered in 1800. To take it, all you need is a mask, which releases a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen, and after a few breaths, while remaining in control of your senses and completely conscious, you feel safer and calmer. Under the action of this gasyou have one feeling of tranquilityso much so that sometimes you don't even feel the sting of the anesthetic or you tolerate the drill working on the dentin without difficulty, and you overcome the tension that leads to the need to swallow often, given that this reaction is also a clear sign of anxiety.
The treatment can be practiced on people who are afraid of needles or those who have a strong gag reflex. With gas the aim is to relax and raise the pain threshold, also allowing in some cases give up anesthesia, such as when an extremely long and laborious tartar ablation is necessary. The important thing is to remember that the doses are not the same for everyone and therefore, it is often preferable to first carry out a preliminary visit to calibrate the mixture exactly. In short, it is always necessary to develop the most suitable gas dosage for each person. Generally the effects of nitrous oxide are practically immediate and disappear immediately after the end of administration, because the gas is not metabolised but is released with simple breathing. In any case, at the end of the session the patient generally breathes a solution to end the effect of the gas.

Why controls are important

“Prevention is the winning weapon we have to reduce oral health problems, which today affect one in two people in the world, a much higher incidence than all other common non-communicable diseases – observes Francesco Cairo, president of SIdP and professor of periodontology at the University of Florence. Two billion people suffer from tooth decay, one billion from severe periodontitis: the document from the European Federation of Periodontology, underlining that Spending on dental care represents approximately 5% of all healthcare costs at a global level, he therefore invited us to invest more in prevention because a large part of these expenses could be avoided. As many as 544 billion dollars could be saved, two thirds related to treatment and one third due to the indirect costs of dental pathologies, but above all the loss of teeth caused by tooth decay and periodontitis is completely avoidable for the majority of people”.
The European Federation of Periodontology document estimated the long-term costs directly associated with the treatment of tooth decay and periodontal disease in people aged 6 to 65 in Brazil, France, Italy, Germany, Indonesia and Great Britain. The figure is obviously conditioned by the size of the population and ranges from 9 billion in Italy to 35 billion in Brazil. The highest cost for single people is estimated in Great Britain with 22 thousand euros per citizen and the lowest in Indonesia with 6,000 euros.
In our country these costs exceed 18,000 euros per person, but with substantial differences between those with a high or low income. “For the former, the expense is approximately half compared to the latter, because a higher socioeconomic condition is associated with better possibilities of access to care, higher quality nutrition, more adequate cultural tools for knowing and adhering to strategies of prevention – specifies Cairo. This means that it is necessary as well as a duty to reduce inequalities, to promote access to checks and early diagnoses in all strata of society”.