Dental Anxiety


Dental anxiety.It's not uncommon for some people to feel a little nervous when visiting the dental office, even though they know it will benefit their health. For a few, however, this anxiety takes on a more troublesome aspect. In fact, according to some surveys, between 10-20 percent of people say they avoid all dental treatment due to fear of the dentist. The consequences of this behavior can be serious, ranging from general deterioration of your oral health to toothaches, infections, even tooth loss — many of which could have been prevented.

In its most severe form, this condition is called dental phobia. It can cause people to experience symptoms of panic and terror (such as extreme nervousness, crying, and shortness of breath) — although they realize that the feeling of dread is irrational. In some cases, psychiatric treatment may be required to overcome this condition. For most people, however, there are a number of simpler ways to reduce the anxiety of a dental procedure.

Talking It Through

As a first step — even before you come in for a visit — discuss your fears with our office. Being able to talk about your experiences in a calm and safe environment, and having a dentist who listens to your concerns, can help you develop a sense of control — which may in turn help reduce the feeling of anxiety.

Once we understand your fears (and any specific things that may trigger them), it becomes possible to develop a plan that can make you more comfortable and less apprehensive. You can begin dental treatment slowly, working through the “easier” procedures before attempting any that could cause greater anxiety. It's even possible for you to arrange a hand signal meaning “stop,” to help you feel that you're more in control of the process.

Using Anti-Anxiety Medications

In addition to an open discussion, there are a number of safe, effective medications that can help get you through even the most complicated dental procedures.

Anti-anxiety medications can be administered in several different ways. Medications in pill form and nitrous oxide, a gas inhaled through the nose, has been used in dental procedures for over 100 years.

Before recommending any type of anti-anxiety treatment, we will review your complete health history, including any medications you are currently taking. On the day of your treatment, it may be necessary to have someone drive you to and from your appointment. Being in a supportive environment, combined with the appropriate use of medication, often makes it possible for even the most apprehensive patients to have a dental experience that's free of fear.

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Dental Fears - Dear Doctor Magazine

Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety Do you feel relatively calm before your dental appointment or are you a little nervous about a visit to the dental office? Do you worry about it days or weeks before the appointment? Are you actually terrified of it? Whichever end of this spectrum you might be on, you are not alone. It's possible, even for those who are the most afraid, to reduce that fear and to learn to have treatment in a way that feels calm and safe. Here's how... Read Article