Dental Anxiety is incredibly common amongst adult Americans – between 9% and 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist due to anxiety or fear. For many people with some degree of dental phobia, visiting the dentist can be the worst experience in the world. It’s because of this irrational fear that those with this condition often suffer from poorer overall health and even lower life expectancy. This is because poor oral health has been found to be related to some life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease and lung infections.
Fear of visiting the dentist has many possible root causes. In many instances however, patients develop this phobia due to a previous negative experience or the lack of control that they experience in the dentist’s chair. Dental phobia can be treated many ways, but without treatment the condition is likely to get worse over time.
Improving your Outlook
One of the most effective ways to treat dental phobia is simply speaking with your dentist about any fears you might have. When you take an active role in the decision making process, you have more control which can have a positive effect on your outlook towards regular dental visits.
If you are anxious or fearful of visiting the dentist, here are some tips to help you ease the distress and get your oral health back on track:
Distract Yourself – try distracting yourself with something more pleasant than your dental procedure such as listening to music
Pain Management – fear of pain is a big reason patients avoid the dentist but thanks to technological advances, there are pain management options available including sedation
Relaxation Techniques – utilizing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or guided imagery during your procedure has proven to reduce levels of stress
Hypnosis – this relaxation technique is common for patients searching for an alternative solution for their dental phobia
Your “Future-Self” will be Thankful
People with dental phobia often put off routine care for years or even decades. To avoid it, they'll put up with gum infections (periodontal disease), pain, or even broken and unsightly teeth. People with dental phobia have a higher risk of gum disease and early tooth loss.
Avoiding the dentist may have emotional costs as well. Discolored or damaged teeth can make people self-conscious and insecure. They may smile less or keep their mouths partly closed when they speak. Some people can become so embarrassed about how their teeth look that their personal and professional lives begin to suffer. There is often a serious loss of self-esteem.
This newsletter/website is not intended to replace the services of a doctor. It does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information in this newsletter/website is for informational purposes only & is not a substitute for professional advice. Please do not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating any condition.