Dental Anxiety: Everything You Need To Know
Fear, worry, or tension connected with a dental environment is referred to as dental anxiety. Being afraid to go to the dentist might lead to postponing or avoiding dental treatment.
Dentist anxiety can be triggered by things like needles, drills, or the dental environment in general. [Hint: what is the fear of dentists called? dentophobia (also called odontophobia)]
Dental anxiety can be classed as a dental phobia (or dentophobia) when it is severe and creates irrational fear of dentist leading to avoidance of visiting him. People are scared of dentists but need treatment come under the category of this disorder.
How dental fear or anxiety about teeth might influence your oral health?
Avoiding because of being scared of the dentist can lead to worsening dental disease, a greater need for emergency care, or more difficult treatment. It may also aggravate the underlying problem of dental anxiety. This is referred to as the ‘vicious cycle of dental worry.’
Regular dental check-ups, cleanings, and X-rays of the teeth can help prevent dental disease and assist the dentist in detecting any issues early, allowing for simpler and less intrusive treatments. Dentists examine for symptoms of oral cancer during frequent check-ups, which is especially crucial for individuals who smoke or drink alcohol on a regular basis, and much more so for those who do both.
How dental fear or anxiety might influence your oral health
Avoiding the dentist (afraid to go to dentist) can lead to worsening dental disease, a greater need for emergency care, or more difficult treatment. It might also aggravate the root problem of dental anxiety. This is referred to as the ‘vicious cycle of dental worry.’
Regular dental check-ups, cleanings, and X-rays of the teeth can help prevent dental disease and assist the dentist in detecting any issues early, allowing for simpler and less intrusive treatments. Dentists examine for symptoms of oral cancer during frequent check-ups, which is especially crucial for individuals who smoke or drink alcohol on a regular basis, and much more so for those who do both. If you find a mouth ulcer lasting more than two weeks, then you must see a dentist as soon as possible.
The majority of dental illnesses are preventable and are caused by poor lifestyle choices. By postponing visiting the dentist, you not only increase your chances of needing more sophisticated treatments when you eventually do go, but you also miss out on learning how to take care of your dental health effectively.
The risk factors for dental illness are extremely similar to those for diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and several malignancies (regularly consuming sugary food and drinks, smoking, and regularly drinking alcohol). So, taking care of your oral and overall health by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day is important.
Dental anxiety and fear are caused by a variety of factors.
Dental anxiety can be brought on by:
- A terrible dental experience or another type of healthcare encounter
- Prior head and neck trauma
- Other stressful events, such as abuse
- Anxiety, sadness, or post-traumatic stress disorder are all examples of generalized anxiety disorders.
- The belief that the mouth is a personal space and that entering it constitutes an invasion of personal space
- Fear of losing control
- Concerns about trust
- Anxiety can be related to other illnesses such as agoraphobia (fear of being trapped in situations from which you believe you cannot escape), claustrophobia (fear of enclosed places), or obsessive-compulsive disorder (cleanliness preoccupation).
What Are the Consequences of Dental Anxiety?
Severe Dental Anxiety affects your dental attendance, dental treatment, and oral health.
- People who suffer from Dental Anxiety are more likely to experience early tooth decay or loss, as well as gum disease.
- Adults with severe Dental Anxiety are frequently unhappy with the appearance of their mouth, teeth, and face. In anxious people, this can lead to sadness and feelings of self-consciousness, resulting in a worse quality of life.
- The prevalence of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is higher among such people.
- People who have discolored teeth may be less likely to smile or may feel self-conscious. This may have an impact on their personal and professional lives, resulting in a significant loss of self-esteem.
Who is susceptible to dental anxiety?
Dental phobia is frequent and can affect people of all ages. Children who have had a terrible dental experience may usually overcome their anxiety if the matter is handled properly and they are well cared for and supported during subsequent dental visits.
Adults who are apprehensive about dental care likely to be nervous for the rest of their lives. Many worried dental patients can locate a dentist who understands their condition and helps them cope with coming to the dentist.
You’re not alone so do not get apprehensive about going to the dentist simply thinking about it over and over. Perhaps you’re afraid the visit will hurt, or you haven’t gone in a long time and are unsure what the dentist will discover.
Whatever your reason, the correct dental staff will take care of both your oral and mental wellness. The more time you wait or just do not go to the dentist, the more likely you are to acquire dental problems that will make preparing for future dental appointments more difficult. In fact, seeing your dentist on a regular basis may make the complete process from scheduling an appointment to completing it becomes significantly easier on many levels.
Use these tactics at your next session to help you relax and feel more at peace.
1. Speak about it – Raise your voice
Anyone who suffers from anxiety of teeth or extreme dental phobia understands that talking about their feelings may make a huge impact. If you’re feeling tight or apprehensive, do yourself a favor and get your worries out of your head. Your dentist and dental staff will be able to provide better care if they are aware of your needs.
- Inform your dentist about your concerns. Tell the receptionist you’re absolutely terrified of the dentist when you make your appointment. When you arrive, inform the dentist and dental staff of your anxiety about your teeth. Share any negative experiences you’ve had in the past, and get advice on coping tactics.
- Don’t be scared to inquire. Knowing what is about to happen might help to lessen any worries about the unknown.
- Decide on a signal. If you need to take a break during the procedure, signal your dentist by raising your hand.
- Inform your dentist if you have discomfort despite the use of a local anesthetic. Some people are self-conscious about their pain tolerance or do not want to interfere with a dentist’s operation. Discuss your pain with your dentist ahead of time so that he or she will know how to interact with you and make you more comfortable.
2. Keep yourself occupied
- When you’re worried, it may seem difficult to take your mind off the test, but there are several things you can do to assist distract your thoughts.
- Put on your headphones. If the drilling sound disturbs you, then you can bring your headphones along and listen to music or an audiobook. Some dental practitioners even have a provision of televisions or DVD players to keep you occupied with something of your choice.
- Squeeze a stress ball or play with a tiny portable device, such as a fidget spinner, to keep your hands occupied.
- Consider your happy location and picture yourself sitting on a beach or in a garden.
3. Employ mindfulness practices
- Relaxation begins with the mind. Deep breathing exercises will help you in relaxing your muscles.
- Take a few deep breaths. Slowly inhale and then exhale for the same number of counts, this will make you feel better. Do this five times while you’re waiting for your appointment or during pauses in the dental chair.
- Perform a body scan. Relaxing your muscles one at a time is a sure remedy to feel better. Start with muscles at the top and work the same down to your toes. For example, you may focus on relaxing your forehead first, then your cheeks, your neck, then the rest of your body.
Dental anxiety can be easily dealt with and is not so difficult. In short, you are required to train your mind for it. Take the help of the dental practitioner to know about the process and give yourself good vibes to go through the complete process. After all, maintaining good oral hygiene is also important for us.