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Dental Phobia - The fear of the dentist

Dr. med. dent. Thomas Wietzorke
Photo: djd

Expert Interview

The WUNDERWEIB Expert for Anxiety Patients and Psychosomatics in Dentistry: Dr. med. med. dent. Thomas Wietzorke

Dr. med. dent. Thomas Wietzorke is a dentist in M√ľnster. He specializes in anxiety patients, homeopathy, natural remedies and acupuncture. His dissertation focuses on the development and recognition of dental care fears and how to positively influence them. He has numerous publications on the subjects of psychosomatics in dentistry and pediatric dentistry.

In the large WUNDERWEIB interview, the expert talks about the most common causes of dental phobia, explains treatment options, and provides helpful tips for effective therapies for fear of the dentist.

What are the most common causes of dental phobia?

Dr. Wietzorke : If the victim has experienced that people from his family environment had pain in the dentist or if he had to suffer there once before: these are the two main causes of a dental phobia.

How do you imagine behavioral therapy to treat dental phobia?

Dr. Wietzorke : The therapy consists mainly of information about anxiety and the physiological background, the learning of relaxation techniques and the creation of a hierarchy of anxiety (what I am most afraid of, what is least of all). In the so-called exposure, one then exercises to relax when one comes into situations triggering anxiety.

How do I find an address where I can have such therapy?

Dr. Wietzorke : At the German Society of Dental, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (Internet: or at the Stiftung Warentest.

Most people want to be treated with the most modern methods of dentistry. Are these solutions usually reimbursed by the fund, or does the patient have to make additional payments?

Dr. Wietzorke : Unfortunately, the patient has to pay almost everywhere today.

Not only when it comes to the subject of teeth: Modern medicine has its price, the threat of a two-class society threatens. How can statutory health insurance companies secure the best level of care?

Dr. Wietzorke : If you take out additional insurance, you can afford a very good level of care at a reasonable cost.

A little afraid of the dentist most people have. Where is the demarcation between normal fear and pathological fear?

Dr. Wietzorke : The pathologically anxious patient does not go to the dentist on a regular basis, but only if he already feels severe pain - so he avoids the visit to the dentist, as long as it goes.

What can happen in the worst case, if strong dental problems remain untreated for years?

Dr. Wietzorke : The consequences can be at worst bad breath, pain, abscesses, chronic inflammation and heart problems.

In general, people who are otherwise neglected are among dental phobics. Is that so?

Dr. Wietzorke : No, that's not so. In fact, phobics exist in all walks of life, regardless of whether people have good or bad oral hygiene.

Should frightened people play "bravery" to make it easier for the dentist, or should one openly trust the dentist with his fears?

Dr. Wietzorke : It is always better for all participants, when the patient speaks openly about his fears.

How successful is a therapy for the treatment of dental phobia? Are there statistical numbers or what percentage of patients can be helped?

Dr. Wietzorke : After all, over 75 percent of the phobics we can help with the psychotherapeutic short-term intervention.