What Do I Do About Dental Anxiety And Fear?

Does the thought of visiting the dentist scare you? Would you rather bear tooth pain than step foot into the dentist’s office? If yes, then you are not alone. According to the American Dental Association statistics, around 22% of US adults forego dental care simply because they are afraid of dental treatment – also known as a dental phobia or dental anxiety. 

What Causes Dental Anxiety?

A variety of reasons can cause dental anxiety:

  • A previous traumatic or painful dental treatment experience 
  • Fear of dental needles and other equipment 
  • Fear of the sound of dental equipment like the drill or the scalers
  • Fear of loss of control 
  • Generalized anxiety or psychiatric disorders 
  • Trust issues

How Dental Anxiety Affects your Oral Health?

Whatever the reason behind your dental anxiety, it can prevent you from seeking dental care. The more your delay your treatment, the higher is your risk of developing dental problems that will eventually require more complex, time-consuming, and unavoidable dental treatment – making it even harder for you to gear up for that dreaded visit to the dentist. It can become a vicious cycle.

 How Do I Overcome My Dental Anxiety?

Luckily, there are ways in which you can manage your dental anxiety while ensuring that you enjoy optimal dental health and a lasting, beautiful, and healthy smile. The American Dental Association offers the following tips for managing dental fear:

  • Talk it Out! – we all know how sharing your feelings can make a huge difference when it comes to anxiety. You can share your specific concerns and fear with your friends or loved ones who have had dental anxiety and have managed to overcome the problem. They may offer support and useful advice. You may also choose to share it with a professional therapist.
  • Talk to your dentist – opening up about your fears with your dentist is the first step towards managing your anxiety. When you arrive for an appointment, remind your dentist and the staff about your anxiety so that they can make the necessary arrangements. 
  • Be Specific – you should inform your dentist about the nature of your dental anxiety. For example, if you are afraid of the dental drill’s sound, your dentist may ask you to listen to your favorite music during treatment to divert your attention. 
  • Ask Questions – it is a good idea to know about the details of your procedure. In this way, you won’t be startled by any sudden maneuvers or unexpected procedures that may worry you. Also, don’t feel shy to ask questions if you have any. 
  • Agree on a Signal – it is necessary that you should feel you’re in control during your treatment – at every step. Therefore, you should agree on a hand signal that tells the dentist to stop if you feel overwhelmed during your treatment. 
  • Distraction – find ways to distract yourself during treatment. Most modern dental practices now have TVs installed in the operatory to watch their favorite movies while the dentist performs the treatment. You can also listen to your favorite music or try relaxing exercises. 

Sedation Dentistry 

For extremely apprehensive or frightened patients, dentists use sedation to calm them down. Sedation involves using different medications to reduce anxiety among patients and make them more comfortable at the dental chair. Sedation is useful for patients with extreme dental phobia, uncooperative children, or physically or mentally challenged individuals. 

Your oral health is as important as your physical wellbeing. 

Don’t let the fear of dental treatment affect your smile and dental health. Talk to one of our top Chicago dentists today and take the first step towards worry-free dental treatment.