Dental anxiety is a real condition that affects thousands of Canadians. In fact, statistics Canada has discovered more than 40% of adults suffer from fear when it is time to visit a dentist.
Having regular dental care treatments is an essential part of maintaining good oral, physical and mental health. The health of your teeth, gums, and mouth can have a direct and indirect effect on the development and progression of other health conditions, including disease and other health disorders.
What Is Dental Anxiety?
Dental anxiety is defined as the stress and fear of having dental work performed. This anxiety can manifest itself through sweating, nausea, erratic breathing patterns, and aggressive behaviour when visiting the dentist. It might also cause a person to avoid regular checkups which can lead to poor oral health which in turn can result in cascading into other health issues.
It is important to understand that while dental anxiety is associated with the fear of going to a dentist office, it is a much milder condition than that of dental phobia. Those with dental phobia experience extreme bouts of irrational fear to the point where they refuse to go to a dentist even with tooth injury, loss or severe pain.
Common Triggers, Causes and Solutions of Dental Anxiety
While not everyone has the same experience or feelings about going to the dentist, there are some common causes of dental anxiety.
Fear of Pain
Due to the fear of pain, many people delay dental care treatments. Dentists can now offer various prescribed and over-the-counter therapies to assist you with any form of pain from minor to major dental surgeries.
Past Traumatic Experiences
For many adults, a traumatic experience from their childhood can instill dental anxiety. Years ago, a dentist office was a stark clinical setting with not much in way of pain relief or compassionate care. Today, dentist offices offer a pleasing aesthetic with coloured walls, ceiling-mounted televisions, and advanced technology for a painless experience.
Fear of Losing Control
Dental anxiety can be triggered quickly in patients that have a need-to-be-in-control personality. Not understanding or being able to see everything that is being done can induce stress. Discussing the nature of the visit and any procedures with the dentist can help you feel more in control of the situation.
People with anxiety usually have trouble with regular daily activities. Couple that with the fear of visiting the dentist and it can create mental anguish that generates dental anxiety. Being mentally prepared with breathing exercises and knowledge of what is going to happen can help lessen your anxiety.
Negative Media Portrayals
The fear of going to the dentist may be caused by a negative media portrayal of dentists in television shows, movies and online videos. Visiting the dentist and discussing your apprehensiveness with staff before an appointment can help reduce your anxious thoughts.
Embarrassment or Self-Consciousness
Many people have avoided dental offices over the years due to costs, busy schedules, or the assumption that dental services are not necessary. Without regular dental visits, you may feel embarrassed or self-conscious about the condition of your oral health. Knowing that dentists have extensive training in dealing with all types of oral health issues can help.
How Dental Anxiety Affects Your Oral Health
There are many ways dental anxiety affects your oral health. It can be as mild as seeing a buildup of plaque on your teeth in between dental visits to more serious conditions, such as decaying teeth due to a lack of oral care.
Since dental anxiety might cause you to delay your dental visits, any type of issue with your teeth and gums can worsen over time without intervention. Neglecting or delaying treatment can compromise your overall health and can lead to escalating dental costs if and when treatment or pain relief is needed.
Tips and Techniques for Conquering Dental Anxiety
Facing the fear of visiting a dentist office can be daunting. Following these tips can help you conquer your dental anxiety, once and for all.
Find a Compassionate Dentist
Do extensive research and find a compassionate dentist who may be easily approachable in discussing situations that lead to dental anxiety. Online reviews and referrals from family and friends can help you find the right dentist.
Prepare Mentally and Emotionally
Before a dentist appointment, use meditation and breathing techniques to control your thoughts and fears. By educating yourself on the type of procedure you can expect to be performed, it can help alleviate your stress and worry.
Talking to the dentist about your dental anxiety can better prepare your dentist for the type of apprehension you may experience during the appointment. Through open communication, a plan can be put in place to help improve your comfort level.
Any form of anxiety can be lessened with proper breathing techniques, particularly when a stressful situation occurs, such as a dental appointment. Taking deep breathes and holding for 30 seconds before exhaling can help relax tense muscles and slow a fast heartbeat.
While sedation dentistry has long been used, it can be helpful with dental anxiety. Due to the fear of not having control or not understanding the procedure, in most cases conscious sedation can be used to ease the patient such as nitrous oxide gas.
Regular Dental Visits
Making regular dental appointments can help diminish the anxiety. Humans are creatures of habit and by visiting a place over and over, the familiarity can get rid of any fear or apprehension usually experienced.
Visit Princeview Dental in Toronto and Take Control of Your Dental Anxiety Today!
For compassionate dental care in a judgement-free zone, talk to the team at Princeview Dental Group located in west Toronto. Our warm and welcoming atmosphere provides a safe and empathetic environment for those with dental anxiety to feel comfortable. Call us at (416) 231-4562 to schedule a consultation or tour of our facility. Our staff will be happy to schedule an appointment to meet your dental needs.