The Psychology of Dental Anxiety: Overcoming the Fear of Dental Exams and Cleanings

The Psychology of Dental Anxiety: Overcoming the Fear of Dental Exams and Cleanings

April 1, 2023
Dental anxiety affects 36 percent of the American population. Dental anxiety is fear, stress, and phobia associated with dental settings. If you are affected by dental anxiety, you will likely avoid dental visits or delay them even when needing dental exams and cleanings near you at six-monthly intervals or earlier. You may not fear the dentist; the anxiety may be directed toward the treatment and potential pain you anticipate. Patients with dental anxiety challenge dentists and the dental staff to cause additional stress responses. Studies reveal that 70 percent of Americans express anxiousness before a dental exam, 20 percent are incredibly anxious, and five percent avoid getting this preventive measure to compromise their oral health and smile at risk. When questioned, patients mentioned that dental anxiety is the second largest trigger for psychological distress, making it essential for dentists to define which patient is likely to have dental anxiety. This article focuses on the psychology of dental anxiety to understand what it means and how to overcome it when receiving preventive care from a dentist near you to safeguard your oral and overall health.

Understanding Dental Anxiety: Causes and Symptoms

Dental anxiety is a fear of the dentist and the dental office. As mentioned earlier, the anxiety is towards the anticipated treatment, not the dentist or their staff, who make every effort to make you comfortable. However, you expect the dentist and their staff to use needles and dental drills, and the environment in the dental office can trigger your anxiety. In addition, some health issues like generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, a history of head and neck trauma, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia can also increase anxiety. If you are among the many with dental anxiety, you may experience racing heartbeat or palpitations, low blood pressure, sweating, fainting, panic, withdrawal, or aggression to hide fear.

Strategies for Overcoming Dental Anxiety: Coping Mechanisms and Techniques

Psychologists recommend several coping mechanisms and techniques as strategies to overcome dental anxiety. Some include discussing your fear of dental visits with the nearby dentist and using other means like breathing exercises, meditation, having a friend or family member along when getting dental exams and cleanings in Kernersville, NC, guided imagery, et cetera. While some mechanisms work effectively for most patients, others receive help from dentists if they discuss their concerns without hesitation because dentists are professionals who evaluate the patient's dental anxiety to recommend appropriate remedial measures.

How Dental Professionals Help Patients with Dental Anxiety

Dentists receive training during their time in dental school on managing patients with dental anxiety because the fear of the dentist is a global problem and affects everyone, including children and older people. When you visit the dentist in Kernersville, NC, for your dental appointment and discuss your fears with them to have dentists evaluate the level of your dental anxiety, the duration of the treatment needed, your preferences, and your insurance before recommending the optimal remedy to ease your fears of the dental treatment and receive it without expressing concerns. Dental exams and cleanings are routine procedures completed by dentists within the hour. However, depending on how long you have been avoiding dentists, you may have accumulated dental plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth and below the gum line compelling the dentist to use dental instruments like scalers to scrape the hardened tartar from your teeth. If you do not like dental treatments and fear the tools used by dentists, the professional can help calm your nerves by providing you nitrous oxide or laughing gas to make you euphoric during your appointment and leave you in a calm state of mind making it comfortable for them to complete the exam and cleaning before you realize it. However, if you are undergoing an intensive procedure and express similar concerns, dentists use other techniques to relax you before you enter the dental office. The fear of needles is comfortably overcome by dentists by providing oral conscious sedation to help you remain awake during intensive dental treatments but oblivious to your surroundings and pain from the treatment. Therefore if you discuss your concerns with the Kernersville dentist, they develop a mechanism to help you overcome dental anxiety when receiving dental treatments.

Preventing Dental Anxiety: Tips for Maintaining Good Oral Health and Preventing Dental Issues

Preventing dental anxiety using the help of the dentist or techniques suggested by psychologists helps prevent dental issues and allows you to maintain good oral health. When you become aware that dental treatments are nothing to fear, you become encouraged to care for your dental health and pay more attention to practicing brushing and flossing and scheduling regular appointments with the dentist, confident that the dentist will treat you compassionately. As a result, the treatment is not as fearful as you imagine. The lack of fear of dental treatments makes you more confident about your dentist to help confide in them about your worries and receive the assistance you need to overcome dental phobia directed at the treatment instead of the dentist. You may compromise your dental health and smile if you fear dental visits. However, schedule an appointment with Welden Village Dental for routine exams and discuss your fears with the professionals to understand how to overcome dental anxiety in a short appointment.