Dental Anxiety: How Common Is It?

Don’t let your fear put you at risk.

Dental Phobia

Visiting the dentist regularly is an important part of maintaining your oral health. But a trip to the dentist is also a commonly dreaded experience; this fear is shared by hundreds of people for a variety of different reasons.

Stress and anxiety can be extremely debilitating. Often these feeling will develop over time as a result of unpleasant experiences. Some dental procedures can be painful, and the memory or anticipation of oral discomfort can trigger a powerful response in some patients. If the response is significant enough, it can be disruptive and interfere with the examination process. But there are alternatives to patients seeking relief from these symptoms.

Many dental practices offer solutions to alleviate this situational panic. Soothing an irrational fear is never simple, but it can be done with attention to detail when creating the environment. It also helps to trust your dentist and establish a comfortable dynamic prior to any cleaning. Discussing your fears with your family dentist can make a big difference; if your technicians know the details of the situation they will be sensitive and alleviate some of your anxiety.

Distraction techniques are also proven to be effective – if you can isolate the main source of your fear, you can make an effort to minimize the power it has over you in the moment. Whether it’s the sound of the dental equipment or the feeling of lying back in the chair and experiencing some sense of powerlessness, you can talk yourself through the nervousness by focusing on other factors outside your immediate environment. Taking yourself out of a situation can be accomplished through meditation or other methods of focused anxiety reduction. If the dental phobia is intense enough, sedation is an alternative that many dental practices provide.

It’s important that patients never let their fear or anxiety prohibit them from seeking regular dental assessment. Avoiding the dentist can lead to gum disease or tooth decay, and put you at risk for other health complications.

It’s not uncommon to experience some displeasure at the prospect of having your teeth cleaned or examined. Most people grin and bear it every six months, but for those who can’t successfully reduce their dental phobia, please consult your family dentist and find a solution to your stress.

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