Dental health is widely considered one of the most critical aspects of our overall health. However, some people find it difficult to sit in a dental chair. Dental anxiety, also known as dental fear, affects a considerable portion of the population, caused by fears about one’s dental health and past experiences with the dentist. Manage Dental Anxiety-
For some, these fears may manifest as dentophobia, also known as odontophobia. Phobia is an extreme or irrational fear of objects, situations, or people. In this instance, dentophobia refers to the fear of visiting the dentist.
Your dental care is essential for your overall health; don’t let your fears stop you from having regular checkups. Yes, it may not be easy; but the good news is that dentists have extensive training in managing anxious patients. There are also things you can do to manage dental anxiety.
6 Causes of Dental Anxiety
There are many reasons some people suffer from dental anxiety. The most common reasons are:
- Side Effects of Anesthesia
Some people are concerned about anesthesia’s possible side effects, such as dizziness and nausea. Others don’t like the “fat lip” or numbness that local anesthesia can cause.
Pain is probably the biggest reason patients avoid seeing a dentist. This is usually due to a negative experience or a bad story. You might have been afraid of the dentist when you were a kid, which may have stayed with you as you grew older.
- Loss of Personal Space and Embarrassment
Some people are uncomfortable with how close a dentist is, and some feel a bit conscious of their teeth’s appearance or the smell of their breath.
- Feelings of Helplessness
This emotion is understandable given the circumstances. During a dental procedure, you will be seated in a chair, your mouth open but not able to see what’s happening.
- Other Medical Conditions
Dental checkups can be more difficult if there is a history of trauma to the head or neck, agoraphobia, claustrophobia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
If you do not have dental insurance, treatments can get costly. Although regular visits to the dentist can reduce the need for expensive procedures, many people still worry about the potential cost of routine dental exams.
Signs and Symptoms of Dental Fear
Everyone reacts differently to stress. When anxious or worried, some people may experience symptoms when they think about visiting the dentist, scheduling an appointment, or simply sitting in the office.
These are the most common signs and symptoms of dental anxiety: ● Feeling faint
- Aggression to mask dental anxiety
- Excessive sweating
- Low blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Visible distress
- Difficulty sleeping the night before your dental appointment
8 Helpful Tips to Manage Dental Anxiety
These tips can help you feel calm and relaxed during your appointment: 1. Check online reviews.
It is better to ask friends and family for recommendations if you’re looking for a dentist. Online reviews are also available; positive reviews can help reduce anxiety.
- Share your fears with your dentist.
Tell your dentist if you feel anxious or tense. Your dentist may be able to modify the way they treat you if you express your concerns.
- Have someone you trust accompany you.
Ask a trusted friend, family member, or relative to accompany you on your visit to the dentist. If possible, they can sit next to you during the procedure or checkup.
- Try relaxation techniques.
Relax your muscles and slow down your heartbeat by controlling your breathing. Hold your breath for a few seconds, and then let go. Another option is muscle relaxation. It is possible to relax and tense different muscle groups simultaneously.
- Use hand signals.
To alleviate your anxiety, you can discuss hand signals with your dentist to make it
easier to communicate. If you are uncomfortable during a procedure, signal your dentist to slow down or stop.
- Look for distractions.
Many dental clinics have TVs and DVD players. You can try listening to your favorite music through headphones or bring a stress ball or a fidget spinner that can help you release some of your nervous energy.
Imagination can work wonders too! Imagine yourself in a garden or at the beach if you can.
- Watch what you eat and drink.
Before your appointment, avoid caffeinated beverages. Increase your intake of protein rich foods; they contain amino acids that are converted into mood-lifting or calming neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
- Ask for anxiety medications or dental sedation options.
Ask your dentist whether sedatives might be an option for you. Others use nitrous dioxide, oral sedatives, IV sedation, and local anesthetics.
Oversedation can lead to severe complications; make sure you have it administered only by a licensed dentist.
Most people tend to get nervous for a dental appointment. They may have had a bad experience with the dentist before, or fear the pain they might feel. No matter the reason, don’t let your fears stop you from getting the dental treatment you need.
Dentists are trained to handle nervous patients. You can also try to do some things to help reduce your nervousness. Don’t be afraid to share your fears with your dentist or talk to them about hand signals to tell them you’re uncomfortable.
On the day of you appointment, try distracting yourself or use relaxation techniques. If going alone is too much, have someone accompany you to a clinic that provides general dentistry in Durango. And if all else fails, ask your dentist for sedation.
Talking to your dentist about your fears is key to managing dental anxiety. Knowing your fears will help your dentist better understand your situation and work with you to find ways to reduce your anxiety.