How to Effectively Handle Dental Anxiety

Few people like visiting the dentist. For some people, however, the mere thought of having to see their dentist makes them feel extreme anxiety that they avoid or delay seeking much-needed dental care. Gleaning from experts in sedation dentistry, some people can’t even sleep well or at all because they excessively worry about what will happen when they go to their dentist appointment.

What Exactly Is Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety is a term used for describing extreme stress or fear in a dental setting. While the cause is different from one person to another, in general, it’s associated with drills, needles, the sounds in a dental office, or the overall setting of dental offices. It is more common among older individuals who might have had a traumatic experience with dental care when technology wasn’t as effective or advanced like it is today.

Common Warning Signs of Dental Anxiety

In general, the most common warning signs of dental anxiety include the following:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Palpitations or tachycardia—racing heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Syncope or possible fainting
  • Panicking, crying, or visible distress
  • Withdrawing or utilizing humor

Most individuals with dental anxiety regularly miss their dental checkups and might find it tough to undergo any form of dental care, even routine cleaning.

Overcoming Dental Anxiety

a woman speaking with her dentistIf your anxiety is preventing you from going to your dentist, here are some strategies that you can try:

  • Just talk to your dentist. Plenty of people are not comfortable speaking with their dentist on a more personal level. However, keep in mind that your dentist is also a patient, so he or she fully understands what you’re going through and can give you advice on how to manage your anxiety.
  • Distract yourself. Think about something else, watch a movie, listen to music, or tinker with your phone or gadget to let go of some of your anxiety.
  • Consider medication. For some individuals, nitrous oxide or sedatives might help calm their nerves.
  • Give yourself a break. Consider taking small breaks during treatment when you begin to feel anxious or claustrophobic. Just tell your dentist anytime you think that your anxiety is getting worse. Get up and get some fresh air.
  • Consider sedation dentistry. Some dentists specialize in sedation dentistry, which involves receiving dental treatments under full or partial loss of consciousness. A majority of people won’t probably require sedation dentistry, but if you have significant dental anxiety that you refuse to receive dental treatment without getting sedated, then sedation dentistry might be what you need.

In the end, you might also be anxious about the unknown, so don’t hesitate to ask your dentist questions before undergoing a dental procedure. That way, you can know what to expect, and your dentist will know how to assure you and make you feel comfortable. You should remember that getting routine dental care is extremely crucial to your oral health. By regularly visiting your dentist, you can avoid oral problems that can significantly affect the quality of your life. In other words, all your efforts to overcome your anxiety will be worth it.