Dental Anxiety in Adults and Children
For many adults and children, attending their bi-annual dental visit does not seem like an ounce of fun. In fact, it often sounds like the last thing they’d like to do when they have what we call “dental anxiety” or “dental phobia”.
In today’s blog, we would like to touch on exactly what dental anxiety and dental phobia is, ways to combat the immediate fight or flight response, and how to discuss your concerns with your dentist.
A mouth left untreated is a mouth that’s significantly prone to the onset of serious dental issues. Together, with our team at North Pointe Dental Associates, we will ensure you receive the proper treatment in the most comfortable setting possible. Keep reading to learn more!
In a survey of 18,000 people worldwide:
“Over 60% of people suffer from dental fear, 4% have never visited a dentist,” writes Dentavox.
If you are suffering from dental phobia or dental anxiety, you are not alone. In just one survey, we see that over 10,000 people have dental fear and 720 people have never visited a dentist at all.
So, what is dental anxiety and dental phobia?
Do you nervously anticipate making a dental appointment? Does the thought of entering a dental office make you quiver? When you think about sitting down in your dentist’s chair, are you at ease or immediately uncomfortable?
If you’ve checked all of the above with less than comforting results, you may be experiencing dental anxiety. Dental anxiety can be described as the fear or stress that is caused by a dental setting and dental procedures.
The most common causes of dental anxiety include:
- A previous negative dental experience
- Lack of control during the dental experience
- Experiencing extreme pain after treatment
- Lack of understanding from the dentist
Dental anxiety is less severe than dental phobia. Dental phobia can be described as an intense fear of the dental setting and can often induce a state of perpetual panic and terror for individuals. Those that experience dental phobia do have an awareness that their fear is irrational, yet many times they are unsure of what to do about it and feel as if they are helpless. As a result, people with dental phobia are often seen avoiding the dentist completely, even when they are in need of a dental treatment.
The vicious cycle
Dental fear leads to delayed dental visits. Delayed dental visits lead to dental problems. Dental problems lead to a need for symptom-driven treatment. Symptom-driven treatment leads to dental fear. This cycle can easily continue and become vicious.
Children with dental anxiety or dental phobia
Surprisingly, nearly 20% of school age children are also afraid of visiting the dentist.
We suggest that parents communicate with their child and let them know in advance that they are scheduled to see the dentist. If your child is fearful of the dentist, create an open dialogue that addresses all of their concerns. We also recommend informing your dentistry of choice about your child’s concerns so they are aware of their fears and apprehensions.
You’ll be relieved to know that dental professionals are fully equipped with the necessary training to manage your child’s dental anxiety or dental phobia. Considering how common it is to fear the dentist, you should know that your child is one of many and shouldn’t feel alienated or different.
Next steps if your child is resistant to the dental office
Consult with your dentist to see if conscious sedation is an option. If you are uncomfortable with your child “going under”, you can seek therapy to remove your child’s fears. Therapy can offer cognitive behavioral therapy that may completely reframe the brain’s irrational response to dentistry.
Adults with dental anxiety or dental phobia
Adults can share the same fears as their children. Not only is there hope for children, but there’s hope for adults, too. Below, we list a few ways for adults to reduce their dental anxiety or dental phobia.
- Communicate: Discuss your fears with your dentist. They’ll know just what to say to put you at ease.
- Breathing: Focus on belly breathing during your dental appointments to reduce your natural stress response. If you aren’t sure of proper breathing techniques, we recommend you contact your local yoga studio and discuss your needs with a yoga professional.
- Distractions: Ask your dentist to put on the television or put on music during your appointment. Television and music can pose as perfect distractions to relax your mind.
Still nervous or know a little one that is?
At North Pointe Dental Associates, we have 40+ years of experience to ensure your dental needs are met. We’re a five-star rated dentistry and we’re here to help you find relief during your visit. Your concerns are our concerns. Get in touch today: (813) 961-1727.