Studies have shown that 20% of the U.S population suffers from dental anxiety or dental phobia, which causes patients to avoid all types of dental procedures. Evading going to the dentist can cause a lot of trouble for your health and it can cause a lot of pain, discomfort, swelling, and tooth loss.
However, going to the dentist for this patient is easier said than done. There have been a lot of studies about fearful dental patients, and these experts have recollected a lot of information, created techniques, and designed procedures to get over the fear. In Dental Solutions, we are aware of complicated this situation can be, and we offer guidance, information, and a comfortable environment to all patients.
What causes dental anxiety or dental phobia?
There are many origins to dental fear, but the most common seems to be a bad experience on the dental chair in the past, especially in childhood. Patients that experienced high pain, and discomfort, or had a dental office that wasn’t accommodating to their needs, now feel fearful of going through that same experience.
The lack of control in the situation can be another factor that creates anxiety. Patients feel like they have no control over what is going on, and they might be fearful of something going wrong, which can be scary for many.
Another common trigger can be the noises produced by the tools, and some patients feel anxious when this comes on. Tools, like needles, can cause fear in some patients.
If the problem is a dental phobia, like any other true phobia it is an extremely irrational fear, and it will prevent patients to look for dental care, this situation requires help from a therapist to understand the phobia, and with time and patience, get over the fear.
Regardless of what is the origin of your dental fears, it is important to become aware of them to discover how to overcome them, so you can receive appropriate dental work and take care of your teeth.
Identifying the root of the dental fear
The first step for fearful patients is to identify the root of the extreme fear. What causes it? It can be associated with pain, noise, the lack of control, fear of the unknown, bad experience in the past and the fear of getting hurt, or even embarrassment about dental health. Knowing what triggers you is necessary to understand in what environment you will find comfort, and a good dentist will help you to feel comfortable.
If the problem is pain, the dentist can use oral sedatives and local anesthetic to make the procedure painless. If the issue is needles, the dentist can use nitrous oxide (laughing gas). If the problem is the noises in the dentist office or the fear of the unknown, it is possible to practice relaxation techniques.
Once you discover the root, you can talk to your doctor to discuss the best way for you to trust and get the proper treatment.
How can dental anxiety affect your oral health?
Avoiding going to the dentist’s office can directly impact your dental health, and it can even affect your overall health. Getting preventive care is helpful to maintain your smile in good shape, preventing cavities, tooth decay, tooth loss, chipped or cracked teeth, gum disease, gum infections, and inflammation due to accumulated tartar.
Also, if you have crooked teeth, genetic conditions, or any oral-related issue, a dentist can spot it on the first visit. Diseases like TMJ, sleep apnea, or mouth cancer require visiting a dental practice to find the proper treatment.
Beyond oral health, it also has been confirmed that mouth problems can contribute to other health issues, like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Therefore, getting over the fear of the dentist is highly recommended for everybody.
Tips to get over the fear of the dentist
How to get over fear of dentist? There are certain actions that fearful dental patients can take to feel more comfortable in the dental treatment room. These tips can help nervous patients to have a better experience in the dentist’s chair.
Look for the right dentist
If you have had a bad experience in the past, it is not your fault. Best dentists put a lot of effort into making the patient comfortable from day 1, and they care about your desires, needs, and fears. Also, they explain the procedure before is done, they communicate effectively and answer all your questions, and if they feel you are stressed, they try to create a calming environment.
If going to the dentist gives you anxiety or you are suffering from dental phobias, in Dental Solutions we have prepared a special team for you ready to answer all your questions, help you to feel comfortable, and give you the best experience possible.
Talk to your dentist
People afraid of dentists need to cultivate a good relationship with their new dentist, this is the only way to feel confident and safe during dental treatments, especially after having bad experiences.
Communicating effectively with your doctor can help to clear all doubts, know exactly what to expect, think about strategies, and co-create a relaxed environment for yourself.
Ask all the questions you need, no matter what they are. This is important so you fully understand the treatment and what implies, and a good dentist won’t hesitate to explain everything to you, especially if they know that you have certain fears about it.
If going to the dentist gives you panic attacks, then you previously need to communicate and share with your doctor your situation. Depending on the severity of your fear, the dentist will offer different options, including sedation.
Determine a ‘sign’ with your doctor
If you are afraid of the pain or feeling out of control makes you scared, you can ask your doctor to come up with a sign. For example, raising your hand can be a sign to indicate that you are in pain, uncomfortable, or you just need a break.
Many dentists use this technique to effectively communicate with patients and make sure that their needs are being heard, and it is a great method for the patient to feel like it has control over the situation. A good dentist will understand and respect your desires, especially if you previously shared your concerns.
Bring a family member
It is possible that the presence of a family member or friend can help to soothe your nerves. You can ask them to be there for you and even hold your hand if you need it. Having a familiar face in a situation that feels uncomfortable and unknown can provide a sense of safety, support, and relaxation that we need.
Use headphones to relax
If the problem is the tools and the noises in the room, you can bring your headphones and put on your favorite music. No matter what treatment you need, teeth cleaning, or a root canal, you can use your headphones to distract yourself from other sounds, noise, and people talking. A piece of good advice is to put on soothing music that helps you to relax.
It is possible to apply techniques that help you relax in the dentist’s chair. These consist of breathing exercises and meditations to calm the nervous system and reduce stress. You can learn them and practice them before your visit, so you feel ready and more in control that day.
Sedation and other alternatives
The advice shared above can be helpful for some patients, but not for all of them, especially if you are suffering from a phobia that causes extreme fear or anxiety. These phobias can be treated by a therapist, but it takes time and patience.
Therefore, many dentists offer sedation as an option to all fearful patients that want to improve their oral health, but cannot relax with previous methods.
Medication and sedation won’t treat dentophobia, but they are an effective solution for patients with extreme fear. This way you can get the proper treatment that you need and deserve without waiting too much time, you won’t risk your overall health, and you won’t go through a stressful situation.