How to Deal with Dental Anxiety

dental anxiety dental camera favorite plusDental anxiety is fear or stress in a dental environment. Being frightened to visit the dentist can result in delaying or avoiding dental treatment.

We can associate dental anxiety with certain triggers such as needles, drills, or the dental setting in general.

Signs and Symptoms of Dental Anxiety

People with dental anxiety may experience:

  • low blood pressure
  • palpitations
  • sweating
  • visible distress, like crying

Anxious patients usually miss dental appointments. They find it difficult to undergo dental treatment regardless of whether it is simple or complex.

Effects of Dental Anxiety to Oral Health

Refraining from going to the dentist can cause a dental disease to get worse, emergency care, or more complex treatment.

Regular dental check-ups can prevent dental disease. It helps the dentist find any problems early, avoiding the need for invasive treatments. 

Causes of Dental Anxiety

  • a traumatic dental or healthcare experience
  • previous trauma to the head and neck
  • other traumatic experiences, including abuse
  • anxiety related to other conditions such as agoraphobia, claustrophobia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • fear of loss of control
  • feelings of invasion of privacy, the mouth being a personal space
  • generalized anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • trust issues

People with Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety is universal and can act on people of any age.

In most cases, children who have had bad dental experiences can overcome their fear with proper management. Adults who are afraid of dental care tend to remain anxious throughout life.

Many anxious dental patients can find a dentist who is sympathetic to their situation, so they can cope with going to the dentist.

How to Manage Dental Anxiety

There are numerous ways to help people manage dental anxiety. It is essential to let the dentist know if you experience any level of dental anxiety. 

Some management techniques that can assist some people are:

  • deep breathing
  • distraction, like listening to music or watching TV
  • guided imagery, such as with the use of a dental camera, the patient can see what’s inside her mouth
  • hypnosis
  • meditation
  • progressive muscle relaxation

Seeing a psychologist can be helpful, too. Short, targeted therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy can be successful.

Severe dental anxiety may require management with relative analgesia or general anesthesia.

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