Welcome to Lighthouse Dental Anxiety Service in Ipswich, Suffolk
The terms dental fear, dental anxiety and dental phobia are used very frequently, often believed to mean the same thing. Although the terms may be related (at least in terms of describing an unpleasant feeling about going to the dentist), they differ in seriousness and in the way in which they are managed.
Dental fear and dental anxiety are different, at least if we look at how the terms are described in the dictionaries, but since most people refer to both terms as unpleasant feelings when faced with a dental situation, the terms will be used interchangeably in this text.
Therefore, we, as dental professionals have a lot of understanding and respect for anxious, fearful or phobic patients regardless of their cause or categorisation.
Fear is a natural reaction to a real threat. In the literature, fear is described as feeling of strong unpleasantness caused by a specific, rational and real threat like pain, danger or harm. It appears to be stronger than anxiety. As an example, it is thus natural to be fearful of falling into the tiger’s enclosure.
Anxiety is described as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.
Phobia is a strong fear caused by an irrational threat. Exposure to the situation that causes the phobia will invariably lead to an anxiety attack. Although the reason for the phobia may be irrational, the effects are very unpleasant and feel very real for the person who experiences a phobic attack.