What Causes Dental Phobia and Anxiety?
There are many causes of dental phobia and anxiety. Some people may be afraid of the pain associated with dental procedures, while others may be afraid of the dentist’s office. Some people may be anxious about having their mouth open for a long period of time or about the sound of the dentist’s tools.
Dental anxiety is a fear of dentists and dental procedures. It is the most common phobia in the United States, with about 1/3 of adults reporting some fear. Dental anxiety can range from mild discomfort to full-blown panic attacks.
There are many causes of dental anxiety, but the most common is a painful childhood memory. Other causes include “pain and horror” stories told by others, feeling out of control during a procedure, and fear of needles.
Dental anxiety can be reduced by discussing your fears with your dentist. However, if you are still uncomfortable after discussing your fears, find a new dentist who will be more understanding and accommodating to your needs.
Oral surgery is the most common cause of dental anxiety and fear of pain. If lack of control is a stressor for you, actively participating in your treatment plan with your dentist can alleviate tension. There are many stages of dental anxiety and phobia, including stains, cavities, hyperdontia, and more, outlined in the passage.
10 Dentist Anxiety Tips
- Look for a dental practice that caters to dental phobics.
Dental phobics often have a strong fear of the dentist and need a practice that understands this. Practices that cater to dental phobics will have special procedures to help make the visit less stressful. They may also have separate waiting areas and exam rooms for those anxious.
It has allowed them to do things they could never have done before and improve the quality of their work. For example, dental x-rays used to require developing films in a dark room and then manually checking them for problems. Today, thanks to digital x-rays, dentists can get an immediate reading of any potential problems with a patient’s teeth. This means that they can catch and treat issues much earlier than ever – often before the patient even knows there is a problem!
They will be able to provide support, but they can also help ask any questions you may have and take notes on what the dentist says. This way, you won’t have to worry about forgetting anything important when you leave.
If you’re the first one there, you’ll be sitting in the waiting room. And if you’re the last one to show up, you’ll feel like you’re keeping the dentist from going home.
When you first arrive for your appointment, take a few minutes to relax in the waiting room. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. You may also want to try some of these other relaxation techniques:
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
- Progressive muscle relaxation: Tighten and release different muscle groups one at a time, beginning with your feet and working up to your head.
- Visualize a peaceful place or situation.
When you’re at the dentist’s office for a cleaning, here are some things you can do to help ease your anxiety:
- First, bite down on a piece of gum or hard candy to keep your mouth busy.
- Suck on a straw.
- Swish water around in your mouth or use a sugar-free chewing gum after the cleaning is done to help remove any traces of fluoride and other chemicals from your teeth and gums.
Some dentists offer oral sedatives that can be taken before your appointment, and others may offer nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to help you relax. If you’re particularly anxious, ask about receiving intravenous (IV) sedation – this will make you feel very relaxed and sleepy.
If you’re feeling tense and anxious, tell your dentist so they can adjust their approach. Feeling like you’re in control of what’s happening will help ease your anxiety and make the experience more pleasant.
If you’re not sure what’s going on, don’t be afraid to speak up. Your dentist wants you to understand what’s happening and how to best care for your teeth. So don’t be shy- the more you know, the less anxious you’ll feel!
When you’re feeling anxious, it can be helpful to step away from the situation and take a few deep breaths. This will help to calm your mind and allow you to think more clearly.
This way, you won’t have to worry about forgetting, and you’ll be sure to get the next appointment on the books.