What Is Dental Anxiety?
Uneasy at the thought of seeing your dentist? You’re not alone.
Dental anxiety can affect anywhere from 48% to 60% of Dental Patients. But that doesn’t mean it’s always a feeling grounded in reality.
Thinking that your appointment with your dentist will be painful won’t necessarily make it so. In this post, we explain what dental anxiety is and how you can deal with it.
Dental Anxiety Explained
Dental anxiety is a feeling of worry that you experience at the thought of seeing your dentist. It may occur even if you have only a mild dental problem whose treatment isn’t likely to cause pain.
Dental anxiety can be compounded by past experiences at the dentist. It can also be based mostly on what you’ve heard about dentists from others.
If a family member or friend complained about an unpleasant dental experience, whether it was recent or many years ago, it may feed your dental anxiety.
Causes of dental anxiety can also include embarrassment about dental hygiene, COVID-19 safety concerns, or fear of drills or needles. It may also come from a general fear of doctors and hospitals.
Symptoms of dental anxiety can include:
- Putting off seeing your dentist, even if you’re in pain
- Racing thoughts
- Shortness of breath
- Panic attacks
Some people that have dental anxiety may experience milder symptoms than others. Even so, the condition can be unpleasant enough for them to put off seeing their dentist, even when they know they should.
What Is Dental Phobia?
While many of us are anxious at the thought of visiting our dentist, for some of us, this experience is nothing short of frightening.
Dental phobia, also known as dentophobia or odontophobia, is a documented phobia. Symptoms can be worse and more persistent than those associated with dental anxiety.
For example, while a person with dental anxiety may eventually get over their apprehensions and see a dentist, a person with dental phobia may not get over their fear without professional help.
Dental phobia can be dangerous. If a person with dental phobia develops a tooth abscess or another serious condition, they may avoid seeing their dentist despite the pain. This can lead to the infection spreading to other parts of the body.
How to Deal with Dental Anxiety
Advancements in dental technology and practices make dental procedures today safer and less painful than they have ever been. A professional dental practice will provide a friendly and pleasant experience from the moment you step in.
If you’re experiencing dental anxiety, it’s important to understand that what you think may happen at the dentist’s is not what will happen. Even if you’ve had unpleasant experiences with dentists in the past, a skilled and experienced dentist can change all that.
Make sure to communicate your concerns with your dentist. Your dentist is likely to have dealt with anxious patients before. He or she will explain exactly what the procedure consists in so you know at all times what is happening even if you cannot see your mouth.
Other things you can try:
- Breathing exercises – These can bring calm through relaxing breathing patterns. A simple exercise is to breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and then exhale for 4 seconds. Rest for a few seconds and repeat the pattern until you feel calmer.
- Meditation – Be aware of the feelings and sensations going through you. Watch them as an observer would. You can explore different types of meditation here.
- Visualization – Visualize yourself in a happy place during the dental procedure. Return to a happy memory or imagine yourself walking down a beach. Feel the wind on your face, the sand under your toes. Smell the breeze.
- Bring a friend or loved one – Not having to go alone to your dental appointment can help ease some of your anxiety.
Dental Anxiety Mississauga – The Wrap Up
In the end, it’s normal to experience dental anxiety. But it’s not normal to let it prevent you from getting the dental services you require. Follow the advice we shared with you and discuss your concerns with your dentist. That way, overcoming your dental anxiety will become easier.
At Karen Dental, your dentist in Mississauga, we offer conscious sedation with Nitrous Oxide. It’s a very safe and simple way to get the dental work done white you are relaxed. Contact us to know more about this and other dental technologies used at Karen Dental, in Mississauga.