Did you know that about 20 million Americans are terrified of needles? So you're not alone if you suffer from this common "needles" worry.
This dental phobia is called belonephobia, which means "fear of needles" in Greek. In plain English, it is known as needle phobia, with many other names related to it such as aichmophobia, fear of pointed objects; algophobia, fear of pain; and trypanophobia, fear of injections.
As trivial as needle phobia may seem, this is nothing to take lightly. Aside from causing major stress and dental anxiety, fear of needles may prevent patients from seeking the medical and dental care they need -- they may try to avoid any dental treatment or procedure involving needles, even one as minor as taking a tiny drop for a blood sample.
This may also be one of the reasons people have dental anxiety. That's why learning more about needle phobia, its causes and treatment can be a good first step to finally getting much-needed professional oral care.
We all fear needles to some extent -- who wants to be poked with sharp pointy things? But feeling a little anxiety from just the mere thought of a needle is different from what a needle phobic actually feels. Here are some symptoms that indicate needle phobia:
- Fainting, nausea, dizziness and sweating
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased blood pressure followed by a sudden drop
- Difficulty sleeping
- Violent resistance
- Feelings of panic
Studies show that most phobics do not really understand their fear of needles. This leads some experts to believe that needle phobia may be caused by other underlying issues from past experiences such as the following:
- Traumatic or painful experience with a needle
- Being physically or emotionally restrained and forced to go through painful procedures which involved needles
- Loss of control, due to some form of restraint or force
- Influence by the pain of a parent or sibling
Knowing the true cause of your fear will make it easier for you to address your phobia and get the dental care you need, though it does take a lot of time, patience and courage to treat any phobia. But don't fret -- here are some ways to still get the care required for good oral health despite your needle phobia:
- Find a dentist who understands fearful patients
- Consider laser dentistry. This new advancement in dental technology allows for treatments without needles in most cases.
- Ask about sedation dentistry. This involves sedatives that put you to sleep (general anesthesia) or in a sleep-like state (conscious sedation) to make you less apprehensive with needles.
- Speak with your doctor about anti-anxiety medication.
- For children, take along his or her favorite toy or use distraction techniques like reading or singing songs, which can help the child relax during the dental visit.
By surrounding yourself with supportive family, friends and most especially an understanding doctor and dentist, getting the medical and dental care you need won't be as scary anymore.