Dental Anxiety Solutions

There is a segment of the population that gets nervous and anxious just thinking about going to the dentist. Dental anxiety is a fear of undergoing dental procedures. It is a legitimate fear, which affects an estimated 13% - 20% of Americans. Many people in this percentage of the population avoid dental care due to their anxiety and fear. Those who avoid the dentist have poor oral health and are at a high risk for periodontal disease. Advanced tooth decay and gum disease can lead to the loss of teeth. Poor gums and damaged teeth affect your ability to chew your food. Clearly, this is a serious problem for those who suffer with the condition.

Dental anxiety affects people in different ways.  There are varying levels of anxiety ranging from being nervous to a severe phobia. People who suffer from severe dental anxiety will many times take an excessive amount of painkillers rather than going to the dentist. Taking painkillers for an extended amount of time and taking high doses of painkillers can cause liver problems and even death. Painkillers only mask the pain; they do not correct the source of the pain. You have to go to the dentist to do that.

Some people have anxiety because they have allowed their teeth to deteriorate and do not want to be judged. Others have a limited knowledge of dental services and fear the unknown. These types of anxiety are mild and simply easy to overcome.

There are patients who fear the loss of control that they experience when they are in the dental chair. For some, it is the pain, while others cannot tolerate the sound or smell of the drill. Some people react to these anxiety triggers by having a panic attack as the anxiety builds. Anxiety that manifests itself with serious physical symptoms usually necessitates medical intervention.

There are now many treatment options to assist you in overcoming your anxiety. Distraction is one method employed to minimize the fear. The dentist will provide headphones and a TV or music to distract the patient from the work being performed. Another method is the use of anxiety medicine to physically relax the patient.

There are many pain management options such as topical anesthetics, Electronic anesthesia (administered without a needle), Nitrous oxide (laughing gas), and intravenous sedation. Some dentists even offer relaxation techniques such as guided imagery and deep sedation. Some dental phobias are so severe that patients are too scared to be sedated because they will then have no control over what is happening to them. With patients that have such a severe phobia, sometimes the only way to get them treatment is under general anesthesia. No matter what your level of fear, there is a treatment available, which will allow you to have the procedures that you require.

Dental anxiety is so common that a niche field has developed as a result. There are dentists who specialize in painless dentistry and dental sedation. The first step to overcoming your dental anxiety is to locate a dentist to discuss your anxiety with.  Most dentists are supportive and specially trained to deal with dental anxiety and phobia. If this step is too much for you to do alone, ask a friend or family member to assist with making the phone calls with you. Share your fears with the receptionist to gauge their level of sensitivity to your fears. ..

Sometimes it is best to book an appointment solely to meet with the dentist and help ease your fears. If possible, book an appointment first thing in the morning so your wait time will be minimized. Tell the dentist that you would like to take baby steps and go about any procedures at your pace. You may need to spend 15 minutes sitting in the dental chair, without having any procedures done. During the next visit, you may only have your x-rays done. If you control the pace of treatment, you have the best chance to overcome your fears and anxiety.

Finally, phobias and fears are best managed when you have a support system in place. Share your fears with your loved ones. Ask for support when making and going to appointments. Seek out internet support groups specifically for dental anxiety.

The bottom line is that you need dental care to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Phobia or no phobia, your teeth will collect bacteria and plaque. You will get cavities if you do not regularly see a dentist. Take the first step to overcoming your dental anxiety today!


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