Why You Need to be Honest About Your Dental Anxiety
Posted on 6/25/2015 by Dr. Call
When you really think about it, the most common dental procedures aren't painful at all. However, that fact alone doesn't prevent people from experiencing trepidation over their next dental visit. The worry, fear, and anticipation of going to the dentist affects about 30 - 40 million people per year. That's roughly 10% to 15% of the population, making the condition fairly common.
The range of fear varies, with people experiencing a mild anxiety to an intense phobia. Anxiety and phobia are not the same thing. Anxiety is a feeling of worry or nervousness. A phobia is an intense, unreasonable fear. However, both can make people so frightened that they'll do almost anything to avoid a visit to the dentist.
If you experience dental anxiety, you have a higher risk of gum disease and early (usually preventable) tooth loss. Avoiding proper dental care has emotional costs as well. Poor oral health can make you feel self-conscious and insecure.
Symptoms of Dental Anxiety
Symptoms of dental anxiety can vary, depending on the degree of fear you experience. Some people may experience a "fight-or-flight" reaction to just the sights, sounds, and smells of a dental office. Others may experience sweating under the arms or even their hands.
Other symptoms of dental anxiety include:
Intense unease or worry
Trouble sleeping the night before the dental visit
Panic when objects are placed in your mouth
Trouble breathing during the proceudre
You may have even felt your heart beat faster as you wait for your turn in the waiting room.
If any of these symptoms are familiar, your best course of action is to discuss this with us. If we don't know you're experiencing anxiety, we can't help you overcome it. Some clients report feeling less anxiety just by taking this first step. You realize that you're being heard and can see that there are options in how you're treated to make your dental visit less stressful.
Treating Dental Anxiety
While some dentists specialize in treating fearful patients, there are common practices many dentists employ to reduce a patient's anxiety.
For instance, before a new dental treatment or procedure, we take extra time explaining each measure of the approach to give you an overview and give you time to know what to expect.
There are other strategies as well that we may offer:
Using earphones to listen to music
Suggest that you bring a friend or relative with to minimize your anxiety
Allow breaks for longer procedures
Establishing signals for pain or discomfort
Listening to CDs with guided mediations
If you're in the market to look for a new dentist, choose one that is sensitive to patients with dental anxiety, such as is the case with our practice. This gives you an opportunity to discover the methods we use and hear our suggestions in advance.
A Few Methods to Lessen Your Dental Anxiety
Even with a dentist that will offer you options for easing your anxiety, there are still a few tactics you can incorporate on your own to improve your visit. Make your dental appointments for the time of day you are least stressed. Whether that means getting there first thing in the morning or requesting the last appointment of the day, plan in advance so you can be accommodated.
Here are a few additional ideas:
Try relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises
Do gentle yoga or stretching to fight tension
Bring your own headphones and music
If none of these suggestions help ease your emotional discomfort, considering enlisting the help of a therapist. Talk therapy and hypnotherapy are two options to relieving many types of stresses and anxieties.
To discuss treatment options for your dental anxiety, please contact us at (971) 708-1608.
Century Dental Dr. Jefferson Call, DMD & Dr. Dix Densley, DDS