A great many of us get a little nervous about a trip to the dentist’s office, so much so that it’s a common comedy trope in movies and cartoons. While for most folks it’s not a big deal, some people do deal with a more serious feeling that goes beyond the jitters and into full-blown dental anxiety. Dental anxiety can be either chronic or occasional, with roughly 36% of us experiencing some form of it during our lives. So what is dental anxiety exactly, how do you know if you have it, and most importantly how do you deal with dental anxiety? Let’s take a look.
What is Dental Anxiety?
Dental anxiety, also known occasionally as dental fear, is a state of fear or anxiety resulting from the concern that something terrible or painful will happen during a trip to the dentist’s office. This can occur with a normal exam and cleaning or a more involved procedure, depending on the patient. The root causes of dental anxiety can vary: the dental setting, the dentist, or a particular procedure like drilling or injections may be the culprit. Some patients worry about the lack of control they feel when in the dentist’s chair, while others are just afraid that they’ll be subjected to a painful experience.
There are some signs and symptoms that may indicate a patient is experiencing dental anxiety:
- Physical symptoms of stress, including nausea, shaking, increased heart rate, and muscle tension.
- Strong, difficult to control emotional response including feelings of fear, racing thoughts, or even panic.
- Negative thoughts that can be difficult to ignore: “I don’t like this feeling”, “This is going to hurt so much”, “I want to leave”, “I can’t breathe/am choking” are all common examples.
Dealing with Dental Anxiety
There’s a first and easy step to addressing dental anxiety, should you experience it at some point: let your dentist know. Dentists are trained to understand that not everyone is comfortable or happy getting dental care, and they know how to make the process easier for you. They’ll likely start by explaining the overall procedure and talking you through each step so you feel more at ease and in control of what’s going on. Likewise, they may let you know that you can signal them to stop the procedure at any point should you experience emotional discomfort or if it becomes too painful. For a great many people dealing with dental anxiety, sometimes all they need at the moment is some time to catch their breath and collect themselves. If your dental anxiety is linked to a particular instrument, such as a dental drill, they may let you wear headphones during the procedure so you can’t hear the noise and can better ignore what’s happening. After the procedure’s over, your dentist and dental staff may spend some time explaining what happened and helping you calm yourself. A caring staff goes a long way towards easing dental anxiety for many people.
Hampstead Dental Cares
Whether you experience dental anxiety or just want to receive your oral health care in a supportive, friendly environment, Hampstead Dental may be the place for you. With a friendly and caring staff and a convenient location, we offer high-quality care to patients around the area. Get in touch today and make an appointment–you’ll be glad you did!