Easing Dental Fear And Anxiety

If you are afraid of visiting the dentist, you are not alone.

Dental Anxiety is real, but what can be done about it…….

According to a recent study conducted by DentaVox and taken by 18,000 people worldwide, 61 percent of the respondents say they suffer from some version of dental fear.

Some respondents said that they are afraid of the pain, some said that they dislike like the smell, and some said the sound of the drill keeps them away.

Even in leading countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and in Germany there’s no exception that dental fear is universal.

In the United States alone, one-third of the population avoids seeing a dentist based on fear.

Types of Dental Fear

There are three different terms used to describe the fear of visiting a dentist they are: dental anxiety, dental fear, and dental phobia, but each term is the same thing, it’s the degree of fear that sets them apart.

  • Dental Anxiety–is characterized with feelings of stress, associated with making or going to an appointment. The exaggerated or unfounded concerns about what may happen leads to this anxiety.
  • Dental Fear–is related to dental anxiety, except that it may cause a person to feel physically ill at the thought of seeing a dentist.
  • Dental Phobia–is a combination of all three fears, but this condition leaves people panic-stricken and terrified. They will go to great lengths to avoid visiting a dentist, and will go only when forced to do so by extreme pain.

What Causes All This Fear And Anxiety?

Fear of pain is normal, experience has taught us from a very young age that pain hurts, and it should be avoided.

The fear of pain from a dental office could stem from a past dental experience that may have been scary or painful.

But thanks to the advances in dentistry, today’s procedures are considerably less painful and even pain-free.

The fear of injections or needles is a common fear among most people, but dentists are trained in handling fearful patients with a variety of useful methods and treatments to ease their fear.

The fear of helplessness or lack of control is another common emotion.

Not being able to see what’s going on, or feeling self-conscious is a stressor for many patients.

Here’s How To Cope With The Fear

The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss any fears with your dentist.

Once your dentist understands these fears, they have methods, techniques and tools that can help calm any dental stress.

Dental professionals understand the fears of their patients and work hard to create environments that are non-threatening such as; calming music, soothing photography, and serene settings.

Dentists have begun to use simple techniques that help patients feel in control such as; explaining what feelings to expect and for how long, allowing them to stop a procedure at any time with a hand cue, giving patients breaks as requested and asking patients for permission to continue.

One thing that any fearful patient can do to start to overcome any dental anxiety is to be honest from the first phone call about any fear.

Go to an appointment with someone you trust (someone who is not afraid of seeing a dentist).

Listen to music or watch a program (offices now offer headphones and televisions for this reason).

Try relaxation techniques.

Have the dentist review your options for sedation (local anesthetic, nitrous oxide, oral sedatives, or intravenous).

Not seeing a dentist, based on fear is not the answer, check ups can certainly help to avoid any major procedure and further fear.

If your dental fears are affecting your quality of life, it may be time to get professional help, seeing a psychologist may be able to effectively remove unconscious blocks and unhelpful patterns of thinking, allowing you to make an appointment without the fear, and come out with a clean and healthy smile.

Here’s to Happy Thoughts and Less Dental Fear

Written by Ilee DeSoto

Sources Sited:

Unsplash Images

DentaVox Survey

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