Dental anxiety refers to the fear or stress caused by the dental environment. Fear of visiting the dentist may result in delay or even avoiding treatment. Dental tools like drills, needles, or even the dental setting can create dental anxiety.
If the anxiety of a dentist is severe and results in irrational fear and refusing to visit dental appointments, this is categorized as dental fear.
Certain mental health issues, such as anxiety disorders, PTSD, history of neck or head trauma, and other illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, can increase the chance of someone suffering from dental anxiety.
Causes of Dental Anxiety and Phobia
Dental anxiety is caused by:
- Traumatizing dental experience or any other experience in healthcare
- Prior trauma to the neck and head
- Other traumatizing experiences, such as abuse
- Generalized depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorders
- The view that the mouth is a private space and considers the dentist an intruder to privacy.
- Fear of losing control
- Trust-related issues
- Anxiety that is triggered by other disorders like agoraphobia, claustrophobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Symptoms of Dental Anxiety
Patients suffering from dental anxiety might be afflicted by:
- Racing heartbeat
- Lower blood pressure
- Crying or indications of panic
- Using aggression or humor to cover up fear
How Dental Anxiety and Phobia Impacts Dental Health?
Refraining from visiting the dentist could worsen dental problems, increasing the need for emergency or more complicated treatment.
Regular dental checks, cleanings, and X-rays for the teeth can stop the development of dental disease and assist the dentist in identifying any issues early. At routine visits, dentists will also be looking for any signs of oral cancer that are particularly crucial for people with a history of oral cancer, those who use tobacco or drink alcohol regularly, and ones who do both.
The causes of lifestyle that lead to dental problems contribute to obesity, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and certain cancers. Therefore, make sure you take proper care of your dental health and general well-being, clean your teeth twice every day, and floss at least once a day.
How to Deal with Dental Anxiety?
It is essential to inform your dentist about your dental anxiety. Discussing various factors that cause stress can help your dentist develop a treatment strategy specifically for you.
A few psychological strategies include:
- Deep breath
- Guided imagery
- Progressive muscles relaxation
- Distraction, such as the listening to music
- Confirm with your dentist the signal to stop the procedure from allowing for an interruption.
Severe dental anxiety or phobia requires medical intervention using some form of analgesia (happy gas) or anxiety-reducing medication and conscious sedation (twilight sedation) or general anesthesia. We ideally recommend nitrous oxide for minor cases of dental phobia as it is non-invasive, mild, and helps to calm the patients' nerves.
Please reach out to our dental practice in Anaheim Hills, CA, to have a consultation with our dentist. Please call us at (714) 974-0949 or schedule an online consultation, and we'll guide you further.