Dental Anxiety – A Comprehensive Guide for Patients who Fear Dentists and/or the Procedures They Perform

Dental AnxietyDental anxiety is experienced by – at least – 40 million individuals within the United States.

Based on information released from the College of Dental Medicine at Columbia University, most of those that experience the fear of dentists and the procedures that they perform neglect professional dental care and treatments as a result of the fear and the immense anxiety in which they suffer.

If you are reading this, it is quite likely that you experience dental anxiety, to one degree or another. In this guide, you will learn about this devastating condition.

What Causes Dental Anxiety?

Numerous studies have been performed to determine the underlying cause of dental anxiety. The following outlines the top findings among researchers:

  1. Direct Experiences and Personal Perceptions – Obviously, many have come to the conclusion that dental anxiety develops as a result of negative dental-based experiences; however, the general nature of this type of anxiety is actually much more complicated. Yes, negative experiences may have an impact on a person’s anxiety levels when it comes to the dental environment; however, the manner in which that individual perceives the environment seems to have a higher impact on their anxiety levels.For example, being placed in a reclining chair may make one feel powerless. Patients that are not familiar with dental processes may find the actions of the dental professional unpredictable. Additionally, performing actions within the mouth are a direct invasion of personal space.
  2. Treatment Consequences – The next cause of dental anxiety is often related to the specifics associated with the dental treatments. One may fear gagging, choking, injections, the sight of blood, and the inability to see what is occurring.
  3. Symptoms Associated with Previously Diagnosed Condition – Many may suffer from dental anxiety due to symptoms that are associated with other medical conditions.For example, the individual that is diagnosed as obsessive compulsive may have a fear of germs in the dental environment. One who is agoraphobic may experience complications being around people. One who has panic attacks may suffer from the fear of the unknown.
  4. History of Abuse – While it sounds a bit odd to most, researchers have established that many individuals that have a history of abuse may experience severe anxiety associated with the dental environment. The history of abuse could have been sexual trauma, physical trauma, and/or emotional trauma.Psychology professionals feel this correlation stems from the feelings of powerlessness, helplessness, lack of control, anticipation of pain, and physical discomfort that often occur with those that have been abused at some point throughout their life.
  5. Fear of Pain – Finally, the fear of pain seems to directly affect those that suffer from dental anxiety. Today’s dental techniques have undergone considerable amounts of advancements. As a result, pain-free dentistry is becoming increasingly more common; however, not all patients know and understand this.As a result, people are scared of being hurt and believe that all experiences in the dental environment will result in severe physical discomfort.

What Are the Negative Effects of Dental Anxiety?

Research, dental records, and the increased prevalence of oral health issues have concluded that there are many negative effects associated with dental anxiety. The following outlines the most severe:

  1. Individuals that suffer from dental anxiety are likely to either delay or completely avoid visiting a dentist. In fact, it has been established that those that cancel or simply do not show up for the appointments that they have previously set for dental care are those that have the highest levels of anxiety in terms of dentists and the procedures that they perform.
  2. Those that have dental anxiety often spend more time in the dental environment, take longer to treat, and find the experience even more troublesome on both a physical and emotional level.
  3. Dental anxiety patients who avoid the dental environment often have poor dental health. The delay in visiting a dentist commonly results in more physical discomfort and having to undergo more complicated and potentially complex dental treatments.

Avoidance of the Dental Environment often Exacerbates Dental Anxiety

If you suffer from dental anxiety, it is important to understand that avoiding the dental environment could result in the worsening of oral health issues. If this occurs, you may require more intense procedures and treatments once you finally decide to go to the dentist.

If this happens, it may increase the amount of dental anxiety that you experience.

We here at American Dental of Fitzgerald understand why you are scared of the dental environment and will work closely with you to ensure that your visit and treatment is as comfortable as possible. Allow us to work with you and optimize your dental health.

Do not delay and allow your dental anxiety to affect your beautiful smile and your health. Contact us today at:

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