Dental anxiety is quite common and for some, it can be so consuming that it prevents them from visiting the dentist altogether. When it is severe, it is considered a dental phobia. This is a problem because the person’s oral health can suffer as a result. Here is what you need to know about dental anxiety and how to manage it.

Signs and symptoms of dental anxiety

If you have dental anxiety, you may experience the following symptoms:

  1. Sweating
  2. Low blood pressure or fainting
  3. Palpitations or an elevated heart rate
  4. Observable anguish, sobbing, or panicky behaviours
  5. Hostility or withdrawal

Those who have dental anxiety may regularly skip dental visits or not go at all.

How dental anxiety impacts oral health

Not going to the dentist for regular check-ups can lead to more complicated dental issues. Additionally, this can exacerbate the underlying issue of dental anxiety as the procedure will likely be more in-depth and may include some pain and this can solidify the person’s fear that going to the dentist is something to be frightened of.

Regular dental appointments assist the dentist in identifying any issues early on, resulting in the need for less complicated and intrusive treatments.

The majority of dental disease is preventable and connected to lifestyle. Avoiding the dentist results in a higher likelihood that you’ll require more involved procedures when you do go.

What causes some people to have dental anxiety or phobias?

Dental anxiety can stem from a variety of causes, some include:

  • Past trauma from a dental visit or other medical-related experience
  • The pain associated with treatments
  • A fear of needles
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder, generalised anxiety or depression
  • The belief that investigating the mouth constitutes a breach of one’s personal space because it is a private place
  • Trust problems
  • Concern about losing control
  • Anxiety linked to other conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorder, agoraphobia, or claustrophobia.

Ways to manage dental anxiety

Individuals can manage their dental anxiety in several ways. If you feel even the slightest bit anxious about going to the dentist, you should let your dentist varsity lakes know. They are trained to address this and assist by discussing what initiates the anxiety and how they can help alleviate this.

Ways you can manage the symptoms of dental anxiety if you are experiencing them:

  • Speak to a professional that specialises in fears and phobias

Other ways could include:

  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing practices
  • Talking with your dentist
  • Hypnosis

Who can experience dental anxiety?

Anyone can be affected by dental anxiety, it doesn’t discriminate and people of all ages ad walks of life can experience it.

Methods your dentist can use if you have severe dental anxiety or phobias

Dentists have several medications they can administer to ease distress and anxiety related to dental procedures. Some of these include:

Oral anti-anxiety tablet

Sometimes, dentists or doctors will prescribe oral anxiety-relieving drugs to help anxious individuals relax. This is generally taken by the patient an hour before the dentist session.

Only after having a conversation with your dentist or doctor should you take medication to relieve dental anxiety. You will not be able to drive if you have taken this medication so ensure that you organise for someone to bring you to your appointment and drop you off afterwards.

Intravenous sedation

This sedation method involves delivering medication through the veins via a drip. A dental sedationist will be the one who administers this sedation.

You may have a light sleep while receiving IV sedation but you can still respond to spoken commands. It’s important to know that not all dentists provide sedation dentistry. Some pre-existing illnesses or drugs may limit the sort of sedation you can receive or prevent you from receiving it.

Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide, also referred to as laughing or happy gas, helps put patients at ease while undergoing dental procedures. A combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen is delivered through a mask that is placed over your nose and mouth area. It starts working relatively quickly and wears off soon after.

You are awake whilst receiving the happy gas however, you will be relaxed during the procedure and may even struggle to remember it.

General anaesthesia

When a general anaesthetic is used to perform dental procedures, they are normally carried out in a hospital. Patients who receive general anaesthesia are unconscious while having their dental work done. It is the least desirable sedative option due to the longer recovery period, and a larger number of resources that are required.

A lot more is involved when going down this route, you’ll need to have pre and post-operative appointments and you’ll generally need to be evaluated by others along with your dentist before, during and after the procedure.

You will not be able to drive post-procedure.

Dental anxiety is common

Did you know that up to 85% of Australian adults experience some form of nervousness when attending a dental appointment? Adults with severe dental phobias will likely have children that are fearful of attending the dentist.

Children often mimic the behavioural patterns of adults, particularly parents.

If a parent exhibits fear about going to the dentist in the presence of their child, the child is likely to imitate this behaviour. The parent has given the child reason to believe that there is something to be scared of when going to the dentist. To ensure that your child doesn’t become fearful of the dentist, it’s best to work through your fears or at the very least, don’t display signs of fear or speak negatively about going to the dentist.

If you experience dental anxiety know that you don’t have to go through it alone and that help is available

There’s no denying that maintaining proper dental health is a key component of one’s general well-being. If you experience dental anxiety or dental-related phobias, know that you don’t have to suffer in silence, there is help out there. With therapy sessions, self-soothing practices and collaboration with your dentist, you can overcome this fear, no matter how severe, and go to the dentist once more. If you are looking for a dentist that can help you conquer these fears, contact the friendly team at Soul Dental. We aim to be understanding, gentle and approachable and hope to have you visiting the dentist without apprehension and worry. Contact us today for more information.