Know Your Dental Treatment Alternatives: Dental Anxiety Does Not Have to Cripple Your Dental Health
Does the thought of entering a dental office fill you with dread? Are needles your worst nightmare? Or can you simply not handle the stress of making that 6 monthly visit? It’s safe to say, you’re not alone. According to WebMD, between 9% and 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist out of fear or anxiety.
There are two types of dental fear: dental anxiety and dental phobia. Whilst a phobia is a serious condition evoking intense fear and dread, sometimes resulting in the choice of tooth decay over a check-up; dental anxiety is much more manageable. It may manifest in feelings of uneasiness with exaggerated worries or fears, but there’s no need to let it stop you from keeping on top of your oral health.
Fear of pain is the number one reason that people avoid the dentist. However, in the majority of cases, the anticipation of dental pain is far worse than the pain itself. Operations such as a root canal get a bad rap because of the pain leading up to the operation, which is actually relieved by the procedure. Similarly, with the extraction of wisdom teeth, it is the pain for a few days after that can be managed with painkillers, not the procedure itself.
If you’ve had a bad dental experience in the past, it’s only logical that you would feel anxious about future visits or treatment. But did you know, this is most common in adults over the age of 24? This is because early dental visits happened before many of the advances in “pain-free” dentistry.
Begin by speaking to your dentist, ask them questions and allow them to reassure you. If you don’t think you can get through it this way, an alternative option is to go to a sedation dentist, taking the stress out and allowing you to sleep through the procedure. If you’re not sure where to go locally, try using this tool to find a sedation dentist near me.
Helplessness or Loss of Control
When you’re in a dental chair you have to stay still, you can’t see what’s going on and therefore can’t predict what might hurt. This can evoke feelings of anxiety. The easiest way to manage these feelings is to take back control in any ways that you can. Try taking a friend to the treatment with you who has no fear of dentists, listening to your own music through headphones, or relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing.
Many people can feel uncomfortable at the dentist because of the closeness and lack of personal space associated with having their mouth examined in a dentist’s chair. This is especially concerning for those with poor dental hygiene, causing embarrassment - it’s a vicious circle! The most important thing to remember with this one is that no matter how bad your oral hygiene is; your dentist will have seen worse! There is no alternative treatment method, but the sooner you visit the dentist to resolve your issues, the less likely you’ll need procedures in the future. If you’re really struggling, visiting a psychologist is also a good option.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember it is your dentist’s job to make you feel as comfortable as possible. Let them know your concerns and they may be able to change the way you are treated to overcome these feelings.