Fear of the dentist, also known as dental anxiety, is a common problem that can prevent people from seeking necessary dental care.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), up to 20% of Americans avoid dental appointments due to anxiety or fear. A study published in the British Dental Journal found that approximately 36% of people surveyed reported experiencing dental anxiety.
It’s worth noting that dental anxiety can vary in severity and can range from mild nervousness to a phobia that prevents someone from seeking dental care altogether. Dental anxiety can be caused by various factors, such as fear of pain, previous negative experiences, a sense of loss of control, or a feeling of vulnerability during dental procedures.
The good news is that there are many techniques and resources available to help manage dental anxiety and ensure that patients receive the care they need. Patients should communicate openly with their dentist about their concerns and work together to develop a plan that addresses their anxiety and meets their dental health needs.
Dental anxiety can cause a range of issues for your teeth and overall oral health. Here are some ways dental anxiety can impact your dental health:
Delayed dental treatment: People with dental anxiety may avoid going to the dentist altogether, which can lead to delayed treatment for dental problems. This can allow minor dental issues to progress into more significant problems that require more invasive and costly treatment.
Poor oral & dental hygiene: People with dental anxiety may also have difficulty maintaining good oral or dental hygiene habits, such as brushing and flossing regularly. This can lead to a buildup of plaque and bacteria, which can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental problems.
Teeth grinding: Dental anxiety can also cause people to grind their teeth, especially during sleep. This can cause tooth wear, chipping, and other dental problems over time.
Tooth decay: Dental anxiety can also lead to unhealthy eating habits and excessive consumption of sugary or acidic foods and drinks, which can increase the risk of tooth decay.
Gum disease: People with dental anxiety may also be more prone to gum disease due to poor oral hygiene habits and an increased inflammatory response to dental plaque.
Overall, dental anxiety can have a significant impact on dental health, but there are many strategies and resources available to help manage anxiety.
Here are some tips to help handle the fear of the dentist:
Communicate with your dentist: Let your dentist know about your fears and concerns. This can help them understand your needs and work with you to develop a plan for addressing your anxiety.
Choose a dentist who specialises in treating anxious patients: Some dentists specialise in treating patients with dental anxiety and use techniques such as sedation dentistry or relaxation techniques to help their patients feel more comfortable. At the Beacon Dental Clinic, your comfort and well being are at the heart of everything we do. We have helped many anxious patients over the years and will be happy to discuss any fears you may have and will do everything we can to make you comfortable during your dental treatment.
Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, meditation, and visualization can all help you relax and reduce your anxiety.
Bring a friend or family member with you: Having someone you trust with you during your dental appointment can provide emotional support and help reduce anxiety.
Use distraction techniques: Listening to music or audiobooks, watching a movie, or using virtual reality goggles can all help distract you from your anxiety during dental procedures.
Ask about sedation options: Your dentist may be able to offer sedation options or oral sedatives to help you feel more relaxed during your appointment.
Start with small, low-stress appointments: Starting with a routine dental cleaning or check-up can help build trust with your dentist and reduce anxiety about more complex procedures.
Remember, dental anxiety is common, and there are many strategies and resources available to help you manage it. By taking proactive steps to address your anxiety, you can get the dental care you need while feeling more comfortable and relaxed.
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