Dental anxiety is used to describe fear, anxiety or stress in the dental environment. The fear of visiting a dentist can cause delay or prevent someone from seeking dental care.
This anxiety can be associated with specific triggers such as needles, training or general dental care.
If dental anxiety is severe and causes irrational fear, this can be classified as dental phobia. Dental anxiety is common. The Journal of the Canadian Dental Association indicates that up to 22% of patients experience one form of dental anxiety or the other.
Worse, 75% of Canadians said they have experienced dental related fear. About 20% of these people ignore dental care as a result, according to Dr. Michael J. Wade.
Some mental illnesses, including generalized anxiety disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, or a history of head and neck trauma, can increase one’s risk of suffering from anxiety.
Signs and Symptoms of Dental Anxiety
People with dental anxiety can experience:
- Heartbeat (tachycardia) or palpitations
- Low blood pressure and possible seizures (syncope)
- Visible distress, crying or signs of panic
- Withdrawal or use of humor or aggression to cover up fear
Some anxious patients routinely lose dental appointments and may find it difficult to undergo simple or complicated dental care.
If you have ever been upset about going to the dentist, you are not alone. You might be afraid that the visit might be dangerous, or you might not go away for a while, and you are not sure what the dentist will find.
Whatever your reason, the right dentist team will take care of your dental and emotional health. The more you go to the dentist late or not, the higher the risk of developing dental problems, making it challenging to prepare for a visit to the dentist in the future.
Your regular visit to the dentist can significantly simplify the whole process – from organization to sailing – at various levels.
Use this strategy at your next meeting to calm your dental anxiety and strengthen your smile.
- Talk to your dentist
Anyone who is worried knows that sharing their feelings changes the world. If you are anxious or afraid, help yourself and get rid of your worries. Your dentist and team can treat you better if they know your needs.
Tell the dentist about your fears. When choosing your appointment date and time, let the receptionist know that you are nervous about seeing a dentist. When you arrive, remind the dentist and dental staff about your fears.
Share the bad experiences that you have had in the past and ask for advice on coping with strategies.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Sometimes, knowing what will happen will allay fears of the unknown.
Receive signal. Let your dentist know by raising your hand if you need to rest during the exam.
If you experience pain despite local anesthesia, tell your dentist. Some patients are bothered by their pain tolerance or don’t want to upset the dentist during the procedure.
Talk to your dentist about pain before it happens so that the dentist knows how to communicate with you and make it more comfortable.
2. Get yourself distracted
When you are nervous, it may be impossible to take your mind off certain things, but some things can help you clear your mind.
Use headphones. If you are distracted by exercise, wear a headset so you can listen to your favorite music or audiobooks. Some dental practices even have a TV or DVD.
Cover your hands by squeezing a stress ball or playing with small hand objects such as a carousel.
Imagine your happy place and imagine yourself on a relaxing beach or in a park.
- Apply attention techniques
Relaxation starts in the head. Try deep breathing exercises to relieve muscle tension.
Count your breath. Breathe slowly and then exhale for the same amount of count. Do this five times while waiting for an appointment or while resting while sitting in the dentist’s chair.
Do a body scan. Concentrate on relaxing muscles, one part of the body at a time. Start with your head and go to your toes.
For example, you can focus on relieving tension by starting from the forehead and then from the cheeks, neck, and entire body.
- Let your dentist explain the procedure
Your dentist can explain the whole procedure first and guide you through the steps while the system is being performed. You always have the right to understand the work on your teeth thoroughly.
Don’t make assumptions and never be afraid of communicating with your dentist. After all, it’s your teeth we’re talking about here.
- Consider additional treatments for relaxation
Many dentists recommend nitric oxide, sedation, or medication for very nervous patients. Find a dentist who offers this option to help you during your visit.
Even though there are many treatment options, you need to ask questions before surrendering your teeth to any dentist. Because whatever happens to your tooth will affect every member of your body.
- Find a dentist who makes you satisfied and build a strong rapport
There are many individuals in the dental profession. Find a dentist who makes you relaxed and ready to work with you because of your fears.
You’re not expected to be comfortable around every dentist. They may be the best dentist in your city, but if you’re not calm or relaxed being around them, you need to consult another dental professional.
- Take a deep breath and try to relax
Some dentists recommend using relaxation techniques before and during an appointment.
Other dentists find that listening to music or scheduling a meeting in the morning before the stress of the day helps patients relax.
Relaxation can help calm the nerves. If you’re going to allow a dentist to operate on you, there’s a need to feel secure about it. That’s why listening to your favorite music is important.
- Schedule and the office environment
Planning and office atmosphere can play an essential role in reducing dental anxiety. From the waiting room to the chair, anxious patients receive everything they see, hear, and smell. In some cases, this can worsen the mental condition of the patient.
It is essential to plan for patients with dental anxiety in the morning because appointments in the afternoon leave more time to worry and only serve to increase fear.
The same logic applies when anxious patients arrive at Boland’s office. The team tried to accommodate patients as soon as possible to avoid prolonged shocks from patients in the waiting room.
Apart from waiting time, patients with dental fear are still not sure when to enter the office. However, a calm and inviting office environment can help restore the sound effects of sports or the smell of eugenol
Other ways to create a calming office environment are:
- Avoid sharp and sterile light that supports natural light;
- Play soft and charming music;
- The walls are decorated with calming posters and photos;
- A waiting table with several reading options;
- Offering food and drinks for patients.
The smell is a sense that is associated with memory. Because negative dental experience has been one of the strongest predictors of dental fear in the past, it is recommended for patients with dental anxiety to mask strong odors in the dental office.
One solution is the presentation of pleasant atmospheric aromas by stand-alone or automatic air fresheners. There are alternative approaches, such as aromatherapy.
In this approach, aromatic plant-based essential oils can be used to produce positive physiological or pharmacological effects.
Research has shown that inhaling pleasant aromas reduces anxiety and improves mood even in patients without fear of teeth.
Helping patients relax not only mentally but also physically is another strategy for patients with dental anxiety. Proper breathing technique is one of the most basic methods to increase physical relaxation.
Dental anxiety can harm patients and dentists who care for them. That’s why the dental team must take additional precautions to reduce patient anxiety in the short and long term.
Direct communication and to express understanding and empathy through words and actions has been proven effective for relieving patient anxiety.
Control appointments by agitated patients, e.g. For example, setting the start and stop times can help calm your mind. Physical relaxation is also part of the equation, with breathing techniques, pleasant aromas and soothing music playing a role.
All members of the dental team must practice effective methods to advance patients with dental fears — for their health.