If you experience fear in any situation associated with dentistry, you may have dental anxiety. If you allow that fear to prevent you from receiving proper dental care, it can negatively affect your dental health—which can affect your overall health too!
Although fear of dentists can be the result of previous experiences or self-conditioning, dental anxiety can also be the result of mental conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, or schizophrenia.
Interestingly, past trauma to the head or neck can also cause dental anxiety. In most cases, however, dental anxiety is a result of a natural fear of experiencing pain.
Do You Suffer from Dental Anxiety?
If it is time for your dental appointment and you experience one of the following, you may suffer from dental anxiety:
– Severe sweating, a racing heart, or palpitations
– Crying, trembling, or fast breathing
– Low blood pressure or fainting
– Resorting to coping mechanisms like humor, aggression, or withdrawal
If you don’t experience any of the above signs, but you look for any excuse to postpone or avoid visits to the dentist, you may also suffer from dental anxiety.
Why You Should Address Dental Anxiety
Dental anxiety can result in many problems. The most significant consequence of dental anxiety is that it results in delaying dental treatment and the worsening of your oral health. Over time, a lack of proper dental care can increase the need for complicated or emergency treatment.
You should visit your dentist at least once every six months for a thorough examination, teeth and gum cleaning, and simple restorations. Difficult to remove plaque and tartar accumulation on your teeth and can, eventually, result in tooth decay, gum disease, and more.
Dental anxiety itself is also a debilitating condition that can, in extreme cases, lead to stress and even depression. Lack of proper dental care and the effect of dental anxiety can generally also have a negative impact on your health.
How to Deal with Dental Anxiety
The good news is that you can deal effectively with dental anxiety. Your first line of defense against the fear of dental treatment is sedation. There are different sedation options available, including minimal inhalation sedation with nitrous oxide, anxiety-relieving medication, conscious intravenous sedation, and general anesthesia.
The benefit of sedation dentistry is that it alleviates pain, discomfort, and anxiety. A secondary benefit is that after undergoing treatment under sedation, your subconscious mind may accept that a visit to the dentist is not a reason to react with fear breaking the vicious dental anxiety cycle.
Other ways to deal with dental anxiety include learning some effective coping techniques, for example:
– Deep breathing to relax
– Distracting yourself with music or guided imagery
– Progressive muscle relaxation
In Conclusion: Dealing with Dental Anxiety
Dental anxiety can have a crippling effect on your well-being, dental health, and overall health. Tell your dental healthcare provider if you believe you may suffer from dental anxiety and ask them if they can recommend a course of action to alleviate your fear.