Managing Dental Anxiety

IN THIS ARTICLE

Do you experience rapid heart rate, sweats, and heavy breathing when you think about visiting your dentist? If yes, you may be experiencing dental anxiety, and you’re not alone.

Hundreds of Americans avoid seeing the dentist each year because of this fear. The National Center for Biotechnology Information estimates that 3 to 16 percent of adults experience dental fear and anxiety. This phobia forms from a wide variety of experiences and factors. Regardless of the cause of it, the importance of seeing a dentist is still necessary and vital for your oral health.

What Causes Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety could be caused by various reasons. However, most people who experience this fear are aware that they are being irrational. After all, the odds of a dental procedure being fatal are slim. Despite this awareness, people with dental phobia avoid seeing a dentist and risk the health of their mouths.

Many dental phobias come from horror stories that have been exaggerated or mistold. While dentistry’s history use to involve severe procedures and little pain relief, advances have revolutionized the dental experience.

Another source of dental phobia not mentioned above is the feeling of vulnerability while seated in the dental chair. This is due to the uncontrollable drooling and the faces patients make after having their mouths open for long periods. 

Others base their fear of pain on past experiences and just assume every dental visit will be just as bad. If you feel like your dentist isn’t doing their best to be gentle, you may want to find a new dentist who will place more importance on your comfort. 

Seeing a dentist is unavoidable if you want to remain healthy, have 4Smile connect you with a dentist who will fit your needs. Simply use our search bar to get started.

Still, people continue to make painful associations with seeing a dentist. They fear the following:

  • Anesthesia won’t mask the pain
  • They will experience side effects to the anesthesia
  • The shot itself will hurt
  • They will lose a tooth due to the force of dental work
  • The dentist’s hand will slip
  • Dentists will over-diagnose
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Another source of dental phobia not mentioned above is the feeling of vulnerability while seated in the dental chair. This is due to the uncontrollable drooling and the faces patients make after having their mouths open for long periods. 

Others base their fear of pain on past experiences and just assume every dental visit will be just as bad. If you feel like your dentist isn’t doing their best to be gentle, you may want to find a new dentist who will place more importance on your comfort. 

Seeing a dentist is unavoidable if you want to remain healthy, have 4Smile connect you with a dentist who will fit your needs. Simply use our search bar to get started.

How can I overcome dental anxiety?

There’s a high correlation between people who experience dental phobia and those with poor dental health. If your nervousness is preventing you from seeing a dentist regularly, it’s time you looked into methods for managing dental anxiety.

Managing dental anxiety could be as simple as sharing this fear with your dentist. After expressing this fear with them, your dentist will be more aware of how their actions may be adding to your anxiety and therefore do their best to relax you. Different ways dentists do this includes sharing what they’ll be doing in detail with their anxious patients, allowing you to hold a mirror, or assigning signals for when you’re uncomfortable.

If you don’t think speaking to your dentist will help your fear, other methods patients have found successful include:

 
 

 

 

  • Listening to music
  • Using a stress ball
  • Playing with a fidget spinner
  • Visualization techniques
  • Counting your breaths
  • Bringing a friend or family member with you
  • Focusing on relaxing one muscle at a time
  • Counting tiles on the ceiling or window blinds
  • Watching something
  • Exercising before your dental appointments
  • Tilting your dental chair less
Dental Anxiety

Is it ok to switch dentists?

As long as the new dentist accepts your insurance coverage, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t switch dentists. Before you make an appointment, double-check with both the dentist’s office and your insurance that your dental treatments will be covered. 

You should never feel bad about changing dentists. Ultimately, your comfort takes precedence over everything else. And because there’s no avoiding the dentist, you need to find ways to be comfortable when your appointment comes up. If this means finding a new dentist, your current dentist will understand.

At 4Smile, we believe there’s a perfect dentist out there for everyone—one who speaks your language, who understands your concerns, who takes your insurance, and who will do their best to reduce your anxiety.

Let us help you find a dentist near you

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