Although it’s highly recommended that all age groups receive dental care every six months, studies show that almost half of American adults have at least moderate levels of dentistry-related fears. Some adults avoid receiving dental care altogether due to their high dental anxiety. Surprisingly, it’s not solely bad childhood experiences that trigger dental anxiety. There are a plethora of reasons why adults experience dental anxiety, which must be addressed for adults to not only have healthy teeth but to also have a healthy mental state in all areas of their lives. Understanding the different causes and treatments of dental anxiety will help adults work through their suffering.
A primary reason for dental anxiety is people listening to their family’s negative stories about their own dental experiences. Dental checkups are very vulnerable because patients have to lay on their backs and let dental professionals inspect their mouths with different tools. Being under these circumstances often makes people feel helpless; therefore, hearing a family member’s traumatizing experience at a dental office can trigger relatable new fears. Other causes include previous facial injuries and a high dependency on appearance. Fearing that something could go wrong during a dental appointment and affect facial appearance could prevent people from attending their appointments. Another prevalent cause of dental anxiety is a dentists’ inappropriate behavior or a traumatic dental treatment.
Fortunately, there are different forms of treatment available to help patients overcome their dental anxiety.
Dental fears usually trigger other worries, such as receiving injections, seeing blood, being trapped, or having one’s personal space invaded. The first step to treating someone with dental anxiety is to assess their specific concerns. The next step is to expose a person to those fears gradually. For example, if a patient hates receiving injections, then that patient should be progressively exposed to needles until their defense subsides and they realize that they’re going to be okay. There are specific techniques patients can practice, such as muscle relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing. Cognitive-behavioral approaches are a handy way to help individuals overcome their anxiety. Sedation is another effective way to help patients get through their dental appointments. Even still, the medication is more effective when patients are relaxed rather than anxious or paranoid.
Because dental anxiety can prevent individuals from receiving dental care, it’s vital that they receive some form of treatment to help with their fears. If their worries maintain unaddressed, individuals could eventually develop decayed or missing teeth due to not getting regular checkups.
At McBride Dental, we understand that both children and adults suffer from dental anxiety. We work with our patients to help alleviate their discomfort; we encourage our patients to express their fears so that we can help them have a positive dental experience. We offer different sedation methods for our patients depending on the nature of their treatment. Our sedation options include nitrous oxide, oral sedation, and IV sedation. If you need a dental appointment and have dental anxiety concerns, call 760-471-1003.