What is dental anxiety?
If someone suffers Dental anxiety, they feel stressed, fearful, and/or nervous when it comes to going to the dentist or receiving dental treatment. Dental anxiety is, as you would expect, quite common, and the seriousness of this condition has varying degrees- it can cause just a bit of discomfort to some people, weak knees to some, or totally cause some people to avoid the dentist for many years and prevent them from getting much needed dental treatment. In such cases, this fear creates preventive dentistry an almost impossible situation, leading to more severe problems because of the long times between appointments.
What are the symptoms of dental anxiety?
There are many, as you would imagine but there is also a scale of severity. It is important to note that dental anxiety is different from dental phobia. Dental phobia is a more serious condition, as it is a disproportionate, irrational level of fear of the dentist, the dental procedure, or even the instruments used for the treatment. Common symptoms:
- Feeling tense about your visit
- Sweaty palms
- Increasing nervousness as the dental appointment is nearing.
Dental anxiety makes people feel nervous or uncomfortable when going to the dentist, but they still go; they understand the importance of going to the dentist and as much as they don’t like it, they just suck it up and get it done. Dental phobia, on the other hand, leads to a much greater pattern of avoidance, a sleepless night the night befor,e worrying and a general debilitating focus on the fear of dental treatment.
What are the causes of dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety can be caused by a variety of reasons such as:
- Fear of pain
- Fear of needles
- Fear of the scaler
- Fear of the drill
- Problems with a gag reflex
- Fear that the anaesthetic won’t work
- Fear that the treatment will have a negative outcome or side effects
- Embarrassment of oral health
- Bad experience from previous dental appointments
- Negative childhood experiences
- Feelings of loss of control
How can dental anxiety be managed?
Communication! As with all other relationships, good communication is the key. Do not be afraid to tell your Maroubra dentist your fears and concerns as this will help him gauge your anxiety level better. If your dentist understands your fears and concerns well, he will be able to adjust his treatment specifically for your case. Trust needs to be developed and this comes with time, building on positive experiences. We have many patients who will only visit us now we have worked through their anxiety and they trust us. It is also very helpful that you tell your dentist what can make you more comfortable and at ease while being treated. If you’re more comfortable with knowing exactly what procedure the dentist is doing, let them know- if you would rather not know- let them know too. Everybody is different. Personally I find the more explanation, the more talking through of a procedure and diagnosis, the better it is for the patient; then, at least, there is no fear of the unknown.
What can my dentist do to help with my dental anxiety?
If you have dental anxiety, your Maroubra dentist can use various techniques to help you feel more comfortable. Aside from communication which works very well, and will always be needed- you are entering the realm of sedation dentistry. This includes oral sedation, nitrous oxide, and IV sedation. Some dentists also have their office designed to be more relaxing and appealing. Some play relaxing background music, or let you listen to your own, others have the television on, while some put fresh flowers in the waiting room or burn candles or incense. The dentist can also make your dental appointment more comfortable by:
- Gently explaining what you might feel when the treatment starts.
- Making sure you are nice and numb
- Constantly checking in with and seeing you are OK.
- Allowing patients to take a break when they feel they need it. We always say if you need a rest, just give us a little wave
- Listening to patients’ needs and feelings more attentively.