Dental anxiety (or dentophobia) is very common and an absolutely normal experience when visiting the dentist. According to The Journal Of Dental Hygiene, around 70–80% of adults in America experience some degree of dental anxiety. They also conclude that for up to 15% of those adults, the anxiety can be so severe that it prevents them from seeking any dental treatment at all.
Not going to your dentist for regular checkups or treatment can put you at risk of developing dental diseases. Some of those may include gingivitis, periodontal disease and decay.
Signs That You Have Dental Anxiety
If you are fearful or panicking about visiting the dentist, then you may have dentophobia. Here are some common signs:
- Unable to sleep for days or the night before your visit.
- Crying or being physically ill at the thought of going.
- Unable to enter the building once at the dentist office.
Common Causes of Dental Anxiety
There are many reasons someone might feel anxious about visiting the dentist. Here are some common fears:
Fear of Pain
Fear of experiencing any pain during a dental visit can be a contributing factor for people not attending appointments. It’s important to know that any treatment you undergo should be pain free. Anesthesia and sedation are available to prevent any pain. At West Coast Dental, we work to ensure any treatment is comfortable for you.
Fear of Helplessness
Sitting in a dental chair with your mouth wide open can make you feel helpless. You are putting your trust in the dentist, and it can cause dental anxiety.
Fear of Embarrassment
If you’ve not been to the dentist for a long time, or you know you need a lot of treatment, then you might feel embarrassed. However, your dentist is there to help you get the best possible smile, no matter when your last check-up was. You should keep in mind that there is nothing your dentist hasn’t seen before, and they’re committed to the same goal as you — a healthy, white smile.
Trypanophobia is the name given to the fear of needles for medical treatments. Again, this is a very common fear. There are options such as sedation that your dentist can discuss with you, if your fear is that severe.
Previous Negative Experience
If you’ve had a previous bad experience at the dentist, then it can cause you to feel anxious when you have to visit again. Talk this through with your dentist, and they will be able to make accommodations to settle your fears.
4 Tips for Dealing With Dental Anxiety
If you experience dentist anxiety when it’s time for your checkup or treatment, here are four ways to “brush” them aside:
- Go With Someone You Trust
As long as the Covid-19 restrictions allow, take someone you trust with you. Having someone you know can be a great comfort and support. They will know how to help you stay calm and distract you. Ask your dentist what their policy is before you arrive with anyone.
- Let Your Dentist Know You’re Anxious
Discussing your fears with your dentist can be a great help. They will be able to put your mind at rest. They can talk you through every stage of the appointment process, or if you prefer, they can just get on with it as quickly and as safely as possible. Communicating your concerns will help you have the best experience possible.
- Practice Relaxation Techniques
Breathing exercises can help calm you and keep you grounded. If you enjoy meditation, then listening to a guided meditation track might help you get into a relaxed state.
- Distract Yourself
Taking your earphones to listen to music or meditation tracks during treatment may help to settle your nerves. Watching a movie is also a great option. If you want to keep your hands busy during your appointment, then a fidget spinner or stress ball might be a great distraction.
Ease Your Mind
Covid-19 may resurface your dentist anxiety, but at West Coast Dental, we can assure you we take all the precautions necessary to ensure your visit is safe. Here’s all you need to know about safely visiting us during Covid-19 restrictions.
Here at West Coast Dental, we have highly qualified dentists who are experienced in working with people with dental anxiety. When you book your check-up, we can schedule an appointment that suits your schedule, and we will make you as comfortable as possible. Having a positive dental experience is very important to us, and we will accommodate you in any way we can.
Journal Of Dental Hygiene – “The Prevalence Of Dental Anxiety In Dental Practice Settings” Healthline – Trypanophobia