Managing Dental Phobia

A 2015 study in the Dental Research Journal surveyed 473 individuals and found that close to 60% had a fear of going to the dentist. While the levels of anxiety varied across study participants, the study also concluded that the more anxious individuals visited the dentist less regularly or not at all.

The cause of dental anxiety is typically a previous traumatic experience at either another dentist or even in another medical situation. Other causes may be related to general anxiety disorders, such as claustrophobia and agoraphobia. Dental anxiety can lead to progression of dental disease, dental emergencies and the need for more complex and costly treatment.

At Digital Implant Design Center, we see many patients that, because of dental anxiety, have put off going to the dentist, and now require partial or full mouth rehabilitation. We use several techniques to combat dental phobia. However, we begin with a simple discussion with our patients to explore the root of their anxiety. Our professional team understands dental phobia is an actual condition that can have serious health consequences. They never judge patients who have delayed going to the dentist because of fear.

Once we understand our patients’ past experience, we formulate a plan that may include behavioral therapies and/or pharmacological treatment for the anxiety. We always enable patients to remain in control at all times during treatment. We also provide amenities to help distract patients and use the latest technologies that enhance patient comfort and decrease procedure time.

Helping patients manage dental anxiety results in better oral and overall health, and provides patients a confident, radiant smile.

Tips for Managing Dental Anxiey*

  • Share your fears. If you’re tense or anxious, tell your dentist and the dental staff. Expressing your concerns will help your dentist adapt the treatment to your needs.
  • Focus on breathing regularly and slowly during dental procedures. When people are nervous they tend to hold their breath, which decreases oxygen levels and further increases feelings of panic. As in some meditation techniques, a focus on slow, regular breathing helps reduce stress levels.
  • Listen to some tunes. If the sound of the drill bothers you, bring along your favorite music and earphones.
    Watch what you eat and drink. Avoid caffeine before a dental appointment. Eat high-protein foods which – unlike sugary foods – produce a calming effect.
  • Use hand signals. Empower yourself by agreeing on hand signals to communicate with your dentist. When you feel uncomfortable, signal the dentist to ease off or stop the procedure.
  • Choose a low-stress appointment time. Select a time for your dental visit when you’re less likely to be rushed or under pressure. This might mean a Saturday or an early-morning appointment.
  • Get some good reviews. If you’re looking for a dentist, ask friends and relatives for recommendations. A glowing review about a dentist from someone you trust can help reduce your anxiety.

*From 7 Ways to Manage Dental Anxiety – Delta Dental