There is a taboo surrounding the condition ‘dental anxiety’.
But it is best to talk about it as knowledge is better than ignorance.
I am going to be hitting on what we call ‘dental anxiety’ today.
So what does dental anxiety mean? It is basically a word used to indicate the fear, anxiety and stress you might be facing in a dental setup.
The major issue is that you will face concerns and fear when it comes to going to visit the dentist, even if it is a simple procedure of dental scaling and flossing.
This leads to you delaying your regular dental visits.
While the visit will usually relate to simple, regular check-ups, you would want to avoid going as you fear that the dentist will actually make this visit complicated.
You will suffer from dental issues which need immediate attention and these relate to painful procedures.
This is a harmful perception as it would lead to certain dental treatments which lead to further complications.
The phobia also relates to use of certain tools like needles and drills and anything associating with the dentist’s office.
Let’s begin this interesting topic:
What is Dental Anxiety
This is a very common condition. However not many people are actually aware of its existence.
This is because not many people talk about it and consider the fear of going to the dentist as a common incident among the masses.
However there is a massive difference between simple, general fear which anyone can get and something which is deeply rooted.
Having dental anxiety means you become stubborn towards not getting treatment.
This leads to having complications with your dental treatment and when you delay treatment, you invite more complications.
But there’s good news too- you can have this condition treated and managed better.
If dental anxiety continues to increase in your life and you have been avoiding going to the dentist for a long time, it is best that you look for ways to cope with it.
There are some strategies you can adapt and seek medical help too.
However before going into the details of that, I want to first talk about the symptoms of this condition.
Symptoms of Dental Anxiety
Some of the major symptoms you will suffer from include:
- Sweating profusely. As soon as you learn that you need to go to the dentist, you lose your calmness and start getting nervous and sweaty.
- Feel your heart beating very fast. This is also called as palpitations or tachycardia.
- In certain cases, you will also suffer from low blood pressure however this condition can also relate to any physical condition you may be suffering from.
- Some people have said that they also feel light-headed the moment a visit to the dentist is mentioned, often leading to fainting as well
- You suffer from visible distress
- In some cases the situation can become extremely vulnerable where you may even start crying
- Having panic episodes are also common. You don’t have the situation in control and you become visibly upset and cry endlessly
- In some cases, the sufferer feels he does not want to show his anxiety levels and in that situation they try to cover their discomfort by making use of awkward humor to cover up their real state.
These are clear-cut warning signs, suggesting that the problem is more serious than it really seems. This isn’t some normal scare before an appointment.
Watch out for one or more of these warning signs as that means you need to address them in order to ensure your dental health is in proper check.
So now that we know what the symptoms are, how does dental anxiety actually come into existence.
What leads to its embedding into your system. There may be one or more reasons as to why you are suffering from dental anxiety.
Let’s now look onto what has lead to dental anxiety into your body:
Causes of Dental Anxiety
It can be lead by one or more of the following reasons:
- You had a traumatic experience which you just can’t let go of. This can be relating to a dental incident or a general healthcare experience. However it was deeply-rooted into your mind and you recall it every time you need to visit the dentist.
- Having a trauma of the head or neck is also a major cause for dental concern. This gives your dental anxiety a major nudge to continue to exist.
- Being subjected to some kind of abuse, any kind of trauma also plays a direct role in not allowing you to visit the dentist in a calm state of mind.
- You are engulfed by a constant fear of loss of control. You feel you wont be able to handle and control the situation if things go out of control.
- Sometimes it relates to your social skills and you just don’t feel comfortable showing your vulnerable state to complete strangers.
- Being a patient of obsessive compulsive disorder also means you have a certain obsession which can also relate to cleanliness. This makes it hard for you to even step out for a simple dental appointment.
- Fear of anesthesia- this means you feel restless when you think of how anesthesia and its side effects affect your health. This constant fear as well as concern over how the anesthesia may not kick in time to protect you from the pain, is what makes the treatment unreliable and unstable to someone with dental anxiety.
Let’s move into who can be affected by this condition:
Who is Affected by Dental Anxiety?
This condition is very common. Any person can have it at any age.
However when it comes to dental anxiety in children, those who have been subjected to this fear can be well-taken care of as stated through years of research by pediatric dentistry.
They should be handled with patience and care and made to realize that it is for their own benefit.
But for adults with dental anxiety, it is hard to have them overcome their fear just like that. It takes time and sometimes having sympathetic dentists helps.
Those who state and show their love and continuous concern in the matter make their patients come at ease.
Now let’s talk about ways in which you can manage the condition:
Ways to Manage Dental Anxiety:
It is important that you talk about your condition openly. Letting your dentist or health expert know what kind of symptoms can trigger your condition, helps for them to tailor a special plan or treatment mechanism which will provide you with good results.
I am going to give you a few of the coping techniques which actually known to help dental anxiety patients.
Let’s see what these are:
- Deep breathing is helpful. Try to practice it on a regular basis and not just when the anxiety kicks in.
- Meditation tactics are really helpful. You don’t need to invest in heavy kinds but even simple ones will do. The key is to set a special time for you to mediate.
- Adapt certain distraction tactics, like listening to music is a good relaxing technique. Also while at the dentist, you can watch your favorite show’s episodes to keep you distracted.
- Guided imagery is also a helpful tool which is proven to have given solace to certain patients.
- Hypnosis is an advanced technique but it is very useful in case of those patients who are suffering from high levels of dental anxiety.
- Progressive muscle relaxation is also an effective method which give great results in calming the situation. Adapt it in conditions where other methods may not work as it also relates to severe cases.
Now let’s talk about certain treatment options which are known to provide results when the above mentioned tactics fall flat.
Treatment for Dental Anxiety
This is also known as the happy or laughing gas. It is used to make a person calm and help them relax during the dental treatment. It consists of oxygen and nitrous oxide and the effect stays on for just a while and then completely wears off.
There are certain oral anxiety medications called anxiolytic which are known to help patients suffering from anxiety.
You take these at least an hour before your dental appointment as it makes you calm and collected.
This is basically a kind of sedation method used which is applied through a drip and goes into your vein. The patient then becomes quite relaxed and even fall into a light sleep.
However those suffering from certain medical conditions should speak to their doctor before applying it.
This can be considered as the last resort. It is when you have anesthesia applied to put you into a sleep.
The method is used in the most severe cases where there are no other mechanisms to make use of.
However it takes time to recover from and it generally doesn’t help you in the long term.
When it comes to managing your dental anxiety, remember to adapt certain tactics which help you to manage the condition in the long run. Remember that you can work around your condition yourself. Learn what works and work around it to attain a better state.