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Many children and adults are perpetually nervous about going to the dentist.
For those with dental anxiety, dental appointments are often avoided at all costs, which is dangerous to your oral and overall health. Missing your check-ups makes it challenging to detect developing dental problems, and once a problem has progressed, the amount of needed dental work only increases.
To avoid this cycle, dentists have been finding innovative ways to make going to the dentist more pleasant for those with dental anxiety.
What Is Dental Anxiety?
Dental anxiety (phobia) is a term used to describe an irrational and sometimes overwhelming fear or stress that arises in a dental setting. This condition has a variety of causes.
Dental anxiety can be triggered by aspects of dental practices, such as needles, drills, potential pain, expected financial costs, restriction of speech, or a heightened sense of vulnerability. Dental anxiety can also be triggered by pre-existing mental conditions, such as general anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, or depression.
Symptoms of dental anxiety vary from person to person, but people with this form of stress may experience:
- Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
- Visible signs of panic, such as crying or distress
- Consistent avoidance of dental treatment
How Can I Handle My Dental Anxiety?
The severity of anxiety can vary dramatically, and while it may seem difficult to overcome, there are ways to manage this fear.
Some coping techniques for dental anxiety include:
- Practicing meditation
- Using progressive muscle relaxation
- Relying on music or television as a distraction
- Taking deep, calming breaths
If you are nervous about going to the dentist, these easy steps may help. Unfortunately, these practices are not always enough. If you have severe anxiety, sedation dentistry is an innovative way to help you get the dental treatment you need.
How Can Sedation Dentistry Help Me?
You should be open with your dentist regarding your anxiety. This can help your dentist tailor your dental process so that you can get the treatment that you need.
Sedation dentistry is a great option for patients who may have trouble handling their anxiety on their own. Sedation dentistry uses calming sedatives to relax the mind and body before any dental work is done.
There are different levels of sedatives, and, depending on the severity of your anxiety or fear, you can use stronger or milder medications. Some sedatives calm you while still allowing you to stay awake and maintain body function. Others take sedation dentistry one step further.
Stronger sedatives may be recommended to put you to sleep, making you unaware of the procedure as it is being done.
Sedation dentistry techniques not only relieves dental anxiety but also helps the dentist provide deeper correction without physical pain or emotional discomfort. Pain or fear of pain can be a big trigger for anxiety, and the pain-relieving techniques used in sedation dentistry can be a huge help.