How To Deal With Dental Fear and Anxiety

In many people, dental appointments evoke such a sense of stress and anxiety that even the thought makes their blood pressure shoot up. And if you happen to experience the same, you are not alone. Many people who have had a previous unpleasant experience or are afraid of the pain associated with injections become stressed when visiting the dentist. Some have heard of painful narratives from friends and relatives; while some have been scared by their mothers into completing tasks failing which they would be taken to the dentist for injections. Children particularly are afraid of a dentist because they think that their already painful condition might worsen. Let us explore the root cause of these fears.

dental chair in dentist office

Causes of dental anxiety

  • Previous unpleasant or painful dental experience
  • Childhood fear associated with stories told by elders of painful procedures performed by dentists
  • People who fear injections also fear dental appointments since they think that they are synonymous
  • Sometimes the fear is imaginary without any reason just because someone else had a bad experience
  • Sometimes its associated with ‘white coat syndrome’ which is fear of the doctors in general because of which, the blood pressure of the patient shoots up upon the sight of doctor; the result of which is the difficulty to get the actual blood pressure reading in the clinic. The extreme form is called a phobia.

Symptoms of dental phobia

  • Sleeplessness on the night before the dental appointment
  • Crying or emotional outbursts in the dental office
  • Total avoidance of dental appointment. People with dental phobia will do everything possible under the sun to avoid going to the dentist and do so only when the situation turns extreme and they are no longer able to bear the pain in the tooth.
  • Feeling of suffocation or difficulty in breathing or sometimes even fainting during dental procedures.

How to deal with dental anxiety/phobia

While it’s easy to bribe children into undergoing dental treatments; the adults are a tad difficult to deal with. But then, they can be reasoned with logic. The best way to overcome a dental fear or phobia is to talk to the dentist. Your dentist will better understand your fears and may help you overcome some of them and providing solutions to others. For example, if you fear the pain during injection; additional anesthesia can be applied topically before injecting the local anesthesia. Also, your dentist will better tell you that people with dental phobia suffer from poor oral health leading to early loss of teeth as well as grave diseases such as heart and lung diseases. This may give an incentive to people with dental phobia to undergo treatment even if they are a bit uncomfortable.

Sedation can also help. Senova Dental Studios in Watford, UK say:

WILL I BE ABLE TO FEEL ANYTHING DURING CONSCIOUS SEDATION?

“The answer to the question is no. We will administer local anaesthetic into the area which requires treatment ensuring that you feel absolutely nothing. All the conscious sedation does is alter your awareness of what is going on around you so that you don’t care, you will simply live in your own twilight world whilst we work on your teeth.”

Children should be shown the procedures being performed on other children which in turn will make them a bit comfortable knowing that other children undergo treatment without any fear.

Also they should be shown the dental equipment and let them name them for example they may name the airrotor as the drill machine and the ultrasonic device as water jet. The procedures should be made fun for them to ease them and let them be in their comfort zone. They should be shown pictures of caries and stories should be made out of them that how they eat up the tooth and how a filling can protect their teeth.

Sign language can be used by both the patient and dentist for example if the patient is uncomfortable or is experiencing pain, they may just raise their hand for the dentist to stop immediately.

Good counseling goes a long way to overcome dental fear. So, talk to your dentist to get over your fears.

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