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All Posts in Category: Dental Anxiety

overcoming dental anxiety

Enjoy Better Oral Health by Overcoming Your Dental Anxiety

Experiencing significant anxiety and nervousness concerning going to the dentist office prevents many people in the United States from seeking the preventative oral care that they need. This dental anxiety can result in more than just losing teeth or experiencing dental pain. If a person’s oral health reaches a certain state of decline, they can develop gum disease, a condition that infects not only the mouth but also other parts of the body.

A recent study conducted at King’s College London shows that dental anxiety has a substantial effect on a person’s social, emotional psychological and physiological states. Individuals with the condition tend to have missing teeth and active cavities. They will be hesitant to smile and display their teeth and will feel embarrassed about the condition of their mouth. They can also experience fatigue, sadness, and discouragement.

Most of these issues stem from the fact that people with dental anxiety will actively avoid receiving regularly scheduled dental services. If they do manage to visit the dentist, their dental anxiety may compel them to opt for short-term dental solutions instead of long-term dental care that may be more effective in addressing their particular oral health problems.

Why Do People Have Dental Anxiety?

Understanding why you have dental anxiety is the first step in overcoming the debilitating condition. Experiencing dental anxiety can be the result of:

  • Having a previous unpleasant experience as a dental patient
  • Suffering from a condition that can be easily aggravated by a dentist visit, such as substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorders or other anxiety or mood disorders
  • Extreme discomfort of not being in full control during a dental visit

How to Overcome Dental Anxiety

There are some actions you can take to become more comfortable with receiving the dental care you need:

  • Bring someone with you when you go to the dentist. It should be someone you trust, such as a close relative or friend, who will be willing to sit with you while you receive treatment.
  • Occupy yourself with a distraction while you are in the dentist’s chair. You can listen to your favorite music with your headphones or focus on a distraction in the room, such as a television.
  • Consider sedation dentistry. If you are a qualified candidate, your dentist may administer the appropriate type of sedative that will keep you relaxed during your treatment. This can include nitrous oxide, oral sedatives, intravenous sedations or a local anesthetic.
  • Learn some effective relaxation techniques that will lower your heart rate and make your muscles relax. Meditation may be an effective tool. You may also want to try to engage in controlled breathing by taking a very deep breath, holding it for a short count and the letting it out very slowly. Another way to relax is by participating in progressive muscle relaxation, which entails tensing and then relaxing different groups of muscles.

Don’t let your dental anxiety be the reason that you do not receive the dental services you need to have optimal oral health. Speak with a dentist about what he or she can do to make your visit more comfortable.

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Anxious man at the dentist

Dealing with Dental Anxiety

Even though dentistry today is virtually painless, many people still experience dental anxiety. There are several causes of dental anxiety, including past painful experiences during childhood dental visits or parents threatening a dental visit if children don’t brush their teeth. This triggered-fear-response makes the idea of going to the dentist unpleasant, but with so many advances in dentistry and a focus on keeping patients comfortable, there’s no need to feel anxious anymore.

Modern dental advances help reduce dental anxiety

Dental tools, treatments, and procedures have evolved positively over the last few decades. The needles used to inject numbing agents are much thinner than in the past and are disposable to be more hygienic. Improved tools and methods of delivering numbing agents also reduce the pressure and discomfort on the gums during injection. There are new products and medications that reduce pain such as dental patches and topical anesthetic gels that numb the gums so patients feel more comfortable during deep cleanings and injections.

Dealing with dental anxiety

One of the best ways to deal with dental anxiety is to remember that under the white coat, your dentist is just a normal person and not someone to fear. If your dentist isn’t open to working with you to overcome your dental anxiety, then it’s time to find a new dentist. Additional tips to deal with dental anxiety include:

Communication helps reduce dental anxiety

Discuss your concerns with your dental professional and ask them questions. A great dentist starts a visit by asking you what bothers you the most and makes you anxious so they can work around any issues. Explain to your dentist any past problems you’ve had during dental visits and ask them in advance what they’ll be doing during your treatment. Establish a cue like raising your hand that alerts your dentist in the event of any discomfort so they can stop. Once you know what’s going to happen, you should feel less anxious and nervous. To improve the calming atmosphere in the room, ask if it’s possible to have a pleasant, familiar scent in the room from an aromatherapy device. If there’s a radio in the room, ask about having it set to your favorite type of station so you can focus on the music during the visit.

Music or audio books help reduce dental anxiety

Establish a calm feeling before your exam even begins by listening to music or audiobooks on your Mp3 player in the waiting room. Don’t arrive too early to the visit, because the longer you sit, the more anxious you may feel—just make sure you arrive on time. As you listen to your favorite music, podcast or audiobook, focus on relaxing your breathing and concentrate on activities you enjoy to maintain a sense of calmness.

Positive surroundings help reduce dental anxiety

It’s common today for dental offices to have televisions and mp3 players available in their rooms for patients to use. Ask to watch your favorite channel or find a program that will distract you during your visit by putting your focus and mind somewhere else. Even dental offices without televisions usually have pleasing décor in the room such as inviting wall colors, pleasing pictures on the walls and ceiling, or fresh flowers.

Sedation dentistry when the above tips don’t eliminate enough of your dental anxiety

When the above dental anxiety coping techniques aren’t sufficient to calm you during your visit, ask about sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry options include nitrous oxide/laughing gas, oral sedatives, and intravenous conscious sedation, all of which enable you to interact with the dentist while feeling relaxed and comfortable.

At Dupont Dental, your comfort is important to us and we want to ensure you have an anxiety-free visit. Schedule your appointment today and let us know how we can make your experience a truly positive one.

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