Every dentist is familiar with the more obvious fears patients may have, for example:
- Fear of Pain
- Fear of the “Drill” – There may be several components besides that of producing pain, e.g. mutilation due to slipping, the sense of cutting, the noise, smell, etc.
- Fear of the “Needle” – The most common fear is that of pain of injection. There are others however, such as fear of deep penetration, tissue injury, numbness, etc.
- Fear of Surgery – Periodontal and oral surgery may be feared because of fantasies of mutilation, threat to body image, pain, etc.
- Fear of the Loss of Teeth
This partial list will suffice. However, other fears invariably are combined with the above obvious ones. Frequently these are the more important fears that are not apparent to the patient or the doctor until they surface during the interview. These are fears that all people have normally but which are exaggerated when bound up with the dental fears listed above. They are:
- Fear of the Unknown
- Fear of Helplessness and Dependency
- Fear of Body Damage and Body Change
Each of these heightened fears, when they exist must be dealt with in the iatrosedative process. As we shall see, there are specific techniques designed to deal with these components of the problem.