Dental anxiety can cause patients to avoid seeing the dentist. This can cause oral health issues to go untreated.
What is Dental Anxiety?
Fear of the dentist can be rooted in many things, including previous negative experiences at the dentist’s office or even certain medical conditions that place the patient at greater risk for tooth decay or gum disease. However, whatever the reason may be for your dental fears, there are simple steps you can take to help reduce them and get to a healthier smile. These may include visiting your dentist on a regular basis, maintaining good oral hygiene habits at home, and even trying relaxation techniques before your visit.
If you’re experiencing severe stress at the thought of going to the dentist, you should speak to your dental office about sedation dentistry. Sedation can help relieve both physical and emotional distress during a procedure, with options ranging from oral sedative medications to inhaled anesthetics. This type of sedation is administered by an anesthesiologist, who monitors you throughout your visit and ensures your safety while you undergo treatment.
What Causes Dental Anxiety?
If you’re experiencing intense, irrational fear of going to the dentist, you’re most likely suffering from dental anxiety. This fear is preventing you from taking care of your teeth and from seeking dental care when you need it. Your dentist understands your anxiety and wants you to overcome it so that you can have a healthy mouth. Here are some common causes of dental anxiety and ways to overcome them.
- Being embarrassed about the condition of your mouth
- Having a bad experience with a dentist in the past
- Fearing pain during dental treatments
- Fear of the sounds and smells in the dental office
- Fear of embarrassment due to stained teeth
- General nervousness or anxiety
- Having a sensitive gag reflex
- Feeling helpless in a clinical environment
Overcoming Dental Anxiety
If dental anxiety is keeping you from visiting your dentist, here are some things you can do to help combat those feelings of fear and anxiety:
- Ask a friend to accompany you to your appointments. They can offer emotional support and help you feel more comfortable during your visits.
- Spend some time relaxing before your appointment by taking a few deep breaths. This will help to calm any nervous feelings you may be having.
- Schedule an appointment in the morning if possible; you’ll have the whole day to mentally prepare for your visit, which may help to ease anxiety.
- Take some slow, deep breaths throughout your treatment to help you remain calm and relaxed.
- Speak up if you feel anxious. The doctors and hygienists at your dentist’s office want their patients to feel calm and comfortable during their visits. Ask them to slow down or take a break if you notice that you are feeling too stressed.
- Listen to music during your treatments. Listening to your favorite songs can help to distract you from your fear and discomfort.
How Can Sedation Dentistry Help Dental Anxiety?
At our office, we provide two forms of sedation dentistry to help patients who suffer from extreme dental anxiety. The first is known as oral conscious sedation. This form of sedation is administered through a pill taken about an hour before the appointment. Patients will remain awake during the procedure but will be in a deep state of calm and relaxation. The second form of sedation is IV Sedation. This form, which is administered directly into the bloodstream, puts patients to sleep for the duration of the procedure. Though patients do remain asleep for the duration of the treatment, they are still able to respond to verbal cues from the dentist during treatment. This is helpful for those of us who have very sensitive gag reflexes.
Interested in overcoming your dental anxiety? Schedule an appointment with us online or call us.