Those who suffer from dental anxiety typically experience fear or nervousness at the thought of going to the dentist. This can have detrimental effects on your oral health as dental anxiety sufferers often delay dental appointments, or even avoid going to the dentist altogether. Not only is this bad for your teeth and gum health, but it can also make your dental anxiety worse. By putting off going to the dentist, those with dental anxiety often end up with serious problems that require more major dental procedures or surgery to fix.
Fortunately, there are many ways that dentists can help patients who have dental anxiety. For example, many dentists use sedation as a way to make the process easier for those with anxiety. A good start to ease dental anxiety is to begin to understand it. If you can start to realize why you may suffer from anxiety, you may find that while the anxiety is still present, it becomes less frightening.
There are many reasons why someone could suffer from dental anxiety, and no two cases are the same. Here are some of the most common causes of dental anxiety:
- Negative Experience: Often, a bad experience (usually during childhood), at the dentist can cause fear or anxiety. Even in adulthood, painful or unpleasant dental experiences can leave one reluctant to going back. If you have had a bad experience at the dentist, it helps to communicate this to your new dentist. They can talk you through the procedure, and ensure you are comfortable.
- Helplessness: Especially for those with PTSD, or abuse victims, the feeling of helplessness while lying in the dentist’s chair can be triggering. Again, it’s important to communicate this to your dentist. They can remind you that you do ultimately have control and can pause the procedure at any time.
- Embarrassment: This doesn’t necessarily cause fear, but a source of dental anxiety can definitely be rooted in embarrassment about the condition of the teeth and mouth. This can create a vicious cycle, as the longer one avoids going to the dentist, the worse the problem will become. Remind yourself that your dentist is here to help you, not to judge or ridicule you and that they have encountered all kinds of scenarios over their career.
Whatever the cause of your dental anxiety, the best thing you can do to ease it is to communicate with your dentist. Let them know you are anxious, and if you are aware of the cause, let them know that too. Together, you can work out a treatment plan that helps you keep your mouth healthy, and feeling comfortable in the dentist chair.