Dental anxiety is a normal response to the situation of dental care. It’s also a very common experience. Despite this, in the past, people have been chastised for their feelings and even made to feel ashamed for avoiding dental care and suffering the consequences in terms of tooth decay, unattractive teeth, and more.
Although dental phobia can have negative consequences, it’s important to understand the causes of dental anxiety in order to offer an optimal solution for anxious patients.
Do You Have Dental Anxiety?
As we noted before, it’s normal and common for people to experience some degree of stress related to a dental visit. In fact, studies show that 75-80% of all dental patients experience some degree of stress or anxiety related to a dental appointment.
But how do you know if your anxiety is high enough that it requires additional care? Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Avoiding routine dental visits or even needed dental treatments
- Depression, crying, or feelings of physical illness at the thought of a dental appointment
- Intense unease at the thought of any specific aspect of a dental visit such as:
- Having the dentist look in your mouth
- Having the dentist’s hands or other implements in your mouth
- Difficulty sleeping the night before a dental appointment
- Difficulty getting numb at an appointment
- More discomfort than average during or after an appointment
- Strong gag reflex
- Difficulty sitting still during an appointment
These are all likely signs that you have dental anxiety and should consider getting treatment for it.
Problems with Dental Phobia
Although dental fear is normal to some extent, it is also destructive. Perhaps the biggest problem with dental phobia is that it can cause people to avoid getting dental care. The effect of this is not that dental problems go away, but that they tend to get worse. Going longer between dental visits means a person is more likely to need more invasive dental treatments, which in turn increases dental phobia.
People with dental phobia are more likely to develop gum disease, which can have a wide range of health consequences throughout the body, including the heart, liver, kidneys, and more. Dental phobics are more likely to lose teeth.
Because they avoid the dentist and may develop unattractive damage to their smile, dental phobics may experience problems with self-esteem and may suffer consequences in their personal and professional relationships.
Causes of Dental Anxiety
Dental anxiety is a normal response to being laid down on your back while someone you don’t know well puts their hands inside your mouth while shining a bright light in your face. Many people can manage this tension, but it becomes harder when people have specific causes of fear associated with the dental office, such as fear of pain, fear of needles or other sharp metal tools, fear of drills, and fear of specific sights or smells.
People may also be afraid of the dentist’s judgment at the appearance of their teeth, the smell of their breath, or their oral hygiene habits. Other times, people may just be anxious about having someone like a dentist so close to them.
Finding the Right Solution to Your Anxiety
Because there are many types and causes of dental anxiety, it’s best to have a range of solutions available. In the past, dentists have offered sedation dentistry to help with dental anxiety, but now NuCalm relaxation dentistry offers a solution that more directly targets the causes and effects of anxiety.
To learn whether NuCalm is the right solution to your dental anxiety, please contact a local NuCalm dentist today.