Did you know that dental anxiety is actually quite common in adults? It’s estimated that approximately 1/3 of the population experiences dental fears to some degree.
So, what causes dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety can stem from a variety of factors and may cause minor to more severe symptoms. For example, some patients may sweat or experience a rapid heart rate while others may have a hard time breathing and experience dizziness. Common triggers of dental anxiety might include:
- Fear of pain
- Fear of needles or that anesthetic may not be effective
- Past negative dental experience
- Uncomfortable with someone in their “personal space”- feeling of helplessness
- Depression or generalized anxiety disorder
- Post- traumatic stress disorder
- Previous head/neck injuries
- Feeling “ lack of control”
What can help with dental anxiety?
First and foremost, it’s important to recognize your dental fears. There are several steps you can take in order to lessen the severity of symptoms including:
Find the right fit:
Feeling comfortable with your dentist or hygienist will greatly reduce feelings of anxiousness. Do your research. Read reviews. Talk to your dentist about your fears. Communicate your concerns and ask questions.
Manage your Symptoms:
- Consider wearing headphones to play music or soothing sounds during your appointment
- Squeeze a stress ball
- Avoid stimulants such as soda or caffeine prior to your appointment
- Practice meditation techniques and imagine yourself in a place that you find peaceful or makes you happy
- BREATHE – take long slow inhales, holding your breath for 3 seconds before slowly exhaling
Break the Cycle! The Importance of Coping with Dental Anxiety:
One of the biggest challenges with dental anxiety is that it oftentimes leads to avoiding dental care altogether. This can be detrimental to both your oral health and overall health. Neglecting dental care can lead to decay or larger complications such as bone loss, gum disease, root canals or tooth loss. Furthermore, certain oral bacteria have been linked to serious health risks such as diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and more.
Whatever might be causing your dental anxiety, know that it can be overcome. Remember to communicate your concerns with your dental team and manage your symptoms with what coping mechanisms work best for you. And know, we are here to help however we can!