Needle phobia or Aichmophobia is the fear of needles and treatments involving needles. If you suffer from this it is important to remember that you are not alone. A large proportion of the population suffer from this condition, and many to the extent where they avoid medical treatment, and let their oral health suffer as a result, whilst 8% of dental patients report that they fear injections.
Different people suffer from Dental phobia for different reasons;
- Many people suffer because of a previous bad experience as a child, coupled with the alien environment of a dental surgery or clinic.
- Many people are simply more sensitive to pain than others and suffer as a result of hearing of bad experiences or “horror stories” about needles from friends or family.
- Patients can be put off by dentists who seem unsympathetic to their needs and are put off going back to receive dental help because of this.
- Happily there are now many dentists out there who are specifically trained to deal with patients who feel anxious about being injected with a needle and are there to help the patient overcome their fears.
Understandably, the most common feature of needle phobia is the fear of injection. There are many reasons why an injection could be painful, such as the dentist not using a dental anaesthetic or numbing gel. If numbing gels are used correctly the soft tissue of the gum will be numb enough that the patient does not feel the needle being inserted, and therefore receives a pain free injection. The dentist administering the anaesthetic too quickly is a common source of dental injection pain. This often results in tearing the tissue and the patient suffering from soreness as a consequence.
If you suffer from needle phobia there are some simple things that can be done to reduce the pain felt from a dental injection.
- When receiving an injection there are some areas of the mouth where the tissue is stretched to make it comfortable for the patient.
- Applying pressure with the fingertip to the gum where the injection has just been received can help reduce the pain as the nerves which transmit the movement and pressure also block the transmission of pain from other nerves.
- This is known as the “Gate Control Theory of Pain,” and shares the same principle as rubbing something better if it is painful having harmed a part of the body.
- Honesty is the best policy where needle phobia is concerned, talking to your dentist before hand and letting them know that you are anxious about needles means that your dentist can go a long way towards relieving your concerns, through giving you a full, easy to understand explanation of the procedures involved, and even using relaxation and distraction techniques to put you at ease.
The Wand a special painless injection
Advances in modern dentistry mean that there is a lot of support for those who suffer from dental phobia. Modern technological advances have helped patients and dentists alike, most notably “the wand”. The wand is a revolutionary machine that is used by dentist to inject the gums and administer local anaesthetic. Most of the pain caused by injections is down to the injection taking place to quickly for the patient’s comfort, and this is where the wand comes in. The wand is computer controlled and injects the patient at a very steady and slow rate, taking all of the pain away from the procedure. Research has shown that the wand reduces patient anxiety during injection treatment, and is much less painful than a dentist manually injecting.
The most important thing for sufferers of dental phobia to bear in mind is not to feel embarrassed, and to remember that however nervous you think you seem, your dentist will in most cases have seen somebody much more anxious and apprehensive than yourself. Dentists will have encountered much worse cases of nerves and fear than yours, and much, much worse cases of oral health than yours. They are trained to deal with this. If you are at all anxious or uncomfortable before or during your visit, please, please talk to your dentist. Do not be afraid to ask them questions about the procedure, and exactly what will take place. They are trained professionals and will be more than happy to help put their patient’s mind at ease.