Understanding Dental Anxiety

December 9, 2016

Understanding dental anxiety

Lots of people feel nervous about seeing the dentist. Dental anxiety is a common fear, one that can have a serious impact on your oral health and general wellbeing if you delay or avoid your routine oral examinations.

If your dentist doesn’t have the chance to check your teeth and gums on a regular basis, they won’t be able to catch tooth decay, gum disease and other serious oral health problems when they can still be easily treated.

How common is dental anxiety?

According to a March 2016 study by the Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health at Adelaide University, as many as one in six Australian adults and 10 percent of children suffer from a high level of dental fear.

Dental anxiety is especially common among middle-aged women, where it affects one in three people. However, this fear is present across all demographics.

Why do people feel nervous about seeing the dentist?

Like other phobias, dental anxiety is usually irrational in nature. This means that people can feel scared about visiting the dentist even when they know it’s a normal part of life and in the best interest of their health.

For other people, dental anxiety can be the result of experiences earlier in life when they had dental treatments. Although the procedures themselves were performed under anaesthesia to numb any pain, the memory of pain from toothaches and other symptoms of oral health conditions can be misdirected to the dentist who actually took the pain away.

Anxieties can be related to specific aspects of the dental experience and may be a symptom of a different phobia, such as a fear of needles, the sight of blood, social situations or feeling helpless. People who don’t look after their oral health may also feel embarrassed or worried about being judged by their dentist.

What are the dangers of dental phobia?

Ignoring dental problems doesn’t make them go away.

If you avoid seeing a dentist for routine check-ups and teeth cleaning to remove plaque, you will be at much higher risk of developing oral health problems that can cause permanent damage to your teeth, gums and jaws and even tooth loss, not to mention suffering bad breath, pain and discomfort.

If you only see the dentist when you already have a problem, your dental procedure will usually be more complex, time-consuming and expensive than if you’d kept up with your routine appointments. You may also find the experience stressful and unpleasant, which can cause problems for your dentist and affect the outcome of your treatment.

How can you overcome dental anxiety?

The best way to overcome your fear of the dentist is to make yourself more familiar with the experience. Keeping up with your routine dental appointments may be a cause for anxiety at first, but if your dentist is understanding and provides a calm and relaxed environment in their clinic, going to the dentist can eventually become a positive experience.

You should always be honest with your dentist about how you feel, so they can help you to feel relaxed. Some clinics play music or show TV programs and movies to help distract patients and make it easier for them to remain calm.

If you need a dental procedure, your dentist will explain clearly and calmly exactly what it involves. They will also discuss the different sedation options available, such as intravenous (IV) sedation, oral sedatives and laughing gas, to make sure you have a calm and painless experience.

Talk to a dentist in Melbourne

Whether you’re due for your oral examination or you need a dental procedure, contact All Day EveryDay Dental on (03) 9853 1811 to speak to our dentists in Brunswick and Kew.

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