A recent study conducted by King’s College London has provided some eye-opening insight into the effects of dental phobia. The research published in the British Dental Journal revealed that individuals with dental phobia are far more likely to develop serious oral health issues, such as decayed and missing teeth as well as severe cases of gum disease. But, it’s not just their oral health that suffers. There are some concerning social and emotional consequences that are linked to dental phobia that highlight why the condition should be addressed as soon as possible rather than ignored.
In the study, over 10,000 participants were gathered, with roughly 1,300 of these participants having a fear of dentists. During the study, it was found that these individuals that become anxious around dentists had a higher risk of having poor oral health as well as a poorer quality of life compared to those that regularly visited their dentist without any fear. Upon reviewing these results, several dental and psychological professionals made speculations as to why this happens.
In regards to poor oral health, it makes sense that those who do not visit the dentist regularly enough develop oral health issues. Visiting your dentist on a regular basis is a preventive measure necessary to maintain and improve oral health. When you visit your dentist they are able to clean away tartar that may have accumulated around your gum line and one your teeth and they will be able to catch and treat oral health issues in their early stages before they can begin to have permanently damaging effects on your teeth and gums. When you are afraid of the dentist and don’t visit often enough, the tartar and plaque may build up on your teeth over time because they are not being cleaned properly and by delaying a visit to the dentist any underlying oral health issues can worsen.
Another reason why a dental phobia can result in poor oral health is because individuals that are afraid of the dentist may not be as cooperative in regards to their dental treatments. In order to avoid having to visit the dentist more often, they might opt for fast, temporary solutions to resolve oral health issues rather than more effective treatments that may require several visits to your dentists in order to carry them out. Those with a dental phobia would also be more likely to opt for DIY home treatments to avoid seeing their dentist, which won’t be as effective as treatments carried out by a trained professional.
In regards to social lie and mental health, these studies revealed that individuals with dental phobia more often felt negative emotions, such as sadness, anxiety, boredom, lethargy and general anxiety. Professionals have suggested that dental phobia might be linked to pre-existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorder. When people feel embarrassed about their oral health they are also less likely to smile or engage in social situations and activities where their teeth may be on display. This can lead to them pulling away from friends and family and isolating themselves from others, which is a type of behaviour that is often linked with depression.
These studies have highlighted why it is so important to prioritise dental health and why more needs to be done to ensure that everyone is able to access a dentist. If you are suffering from dental phobia, speak to a counsellor, psychiatrist or your dentist to talk through solutions and methods to help you feel more comfortable with receiving dental treatment. Until you are able to regularly see a dentist, it is even more important that you take care of your oral health at home by using a best electric toothbrush and flossing on a daily basis.