Dental Anxiety

Do you feel scared of the dentist, but need treatment? You are not alone. The Dental Association reports that 22 percent of patients experience dental anxiety. If you are like many patients, you undergo some degree of uneasiness when facing the need to visit the dentist. It can be unsettling having someone explore a personal area of your body, such as your mouth, gums, and teeth. For some patients, this nervousness extends beyond being mildly unsettling. Those who experience aggressive forms of dental anxiety may be so panic-stricken by thoughts of visiting the dentist, they avoid it to the point where mild dental issues become severe. When this happens, it can trigger a cascade effect requiring more invasive dental procedures or other repercussions, such as a tooth extraction, root canal, or emergency dental work.

Dental anxiety can also lead to poor self-esteem as most of us are concerned about our appearance. Even though most patients do not know what the dentist is looking for when conducting a dental exam, routine dental visits can help you avoid many of the would-be scarier complications. Working through dental anxiety can enable you to get the preventive care you may need to potentially avoid more intense dental treatments.

Dental anxiety is not a condition you can overcome in a day though, as most patients who have anxiety suffer from extreme discomfort, nervousness, fear, and even panic at the thought of going to the dentist. In more extreme cases, it manifests in very real symptoms. Unfortunately, this fear and anxiety causes many patients to put off going to the dentist, sometimes for years, or even decades. Some patients avoid seeing the dentist altogether until their pain is so intense, they can no longer avoid it. You can prevent extensive oral health issues through regular cleanings, examinations, and dental checkups, along with a few minor procedures along the way. Taking care of your teeth is about so much more than protecting the integrity of your smile and working to overcome dental anxiety.

Symptoms of Dental Anxiety

  • Upset stomach
  • Hot flashes and sweating
  • Palpitations and increased heart rate
  • Aggressiveness
  • Withdrawal
  • Low blood pressure and fainting
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty breathing and hyperventilation
  • Agitation
  • The urge to cry at the thought of going to the dentist
  • Difficulty sleeping before dental examinations
  • Intense discomfort at the thought of going to the dentist

Fortunately, there are several methods and tools you can use, both in our office and out, to help you figure out how to stay calm before and after your next dental appointment. The more tools you use, the better you will equip yourself to manage your anxiety effectively.

Causes of Dental Anxiety

  • Negative experiences from the past
  • Feelings of loss of control
  • Fear of anesthetics and the side effects they cause
  • Trust issues
  • Other phobias or conditions
  • Fear of injections
  • Fear of what dental sounds indicate
  • The discomfort of having your personal space invaded

You are unique and you come to the dentist with your individual history. This history shapes your perceptions and fears, and it can profoundly impact your experience, regardless of the dentist. The more you understand what shapes your anxiety, the better you will be able to address it. Patients all over our community fear the dentist for a variety of reasons. Your reason may be one of the ones above, or something else entirely. Take time to assess the probable cause of your anxiety and start addressing those potential causes.

How We Can Help You Manage Your Dental Anxiety

We offer a variety of tools and services designed to ease anxiety and help you feel more comfortable throughout your visit. Not only are we willing to discuss your anxiety, but we also offer dental sedation to help ease your fears about treatment. We can help identify if one of our sedation methods is a suitable choice for you, but please understand that dental sedation is not for everyone.

  • Laughing Gas Sedation

    Laughing gas is the most common type of sedation used in dentistry. You will start by wearing a mask through which the gas is administered. You will remain awake throughout your appointment and when the gas is shutoff, it will only take a few minutes to recover. The best part? You can resume normal activities right after your appointment is over.

  • Oral Sedation

    Compared to laughing gas, medication is a slightly stronger form of sedation. You may benefit from oral sedation if we feel that laughing gas may not be enough to calm your nerves. You would need to take the sedative 10-15-minutes prior to your appointment. At times, laughing gas is used in conjunction to an oral sedative. You will remain awake and relaxed throughout the procedure but will require a short while to recover, so, it is best to not schedule any activities immediately following a dental procedure that required an oral sedative.

  • Sleep Dentistry

    For those patients that may require multiple treatments or those that cannot tolerate treatment awake, sleep dentistry can be the best option. We are fully equipped to safely provide sleep dentistry within our office, however, depending on your requirements, we may refer you to another specialist.

Free Consultations

Not sure which service is right for you? Schedule a free consultation with us to discuss your needs and the options available.