Is anxiety or nervousness preventing you from visiting our team? Dental treatments should not be a cause of stress. If you worry about pain, embarrassment, or loss or control during a dental examination, we want you to know two very important things: You are not alone and We can help.
Dental Anxiety Is Very Common
Research has shown that most patients experience some degree of anxiety when visiting the dentist. Between 10 to 20% of the general population encounters such a high level of stress and nervousness that they ignore oral healthcare altogether. This can increase the risk of developing severe oral health complications, requiring additional care.
Signs of dental anxiety include:
- Trouble sleeping the night before the dental exam
- Feelings of nervousness that escalate while in the dental office waiting room
- Crying or feeling physically ill at the very thought of visiting the dentist
- Intense uneasiness at the thought of, or actually when, objects are placed in your mouth during the dental treatment or suddenly feeling like it is difficult to breathe
In many cases, dental anxiety has two main causes. First, patients may have had a negative experience in the past, leaving them apprehensive towards their next appointment. Second, is through influence. This is particularly true for children. Children learn through imitation and are influenced by their parents. If you dread going to the dentist, your child may pick up on the behavior and develop similar fears.
What Causes Dental Anxiety?
There are many reasons why some people have dental anxiety. Some reasons include:
- Fear of pain. This fear usually stems from an early dental experience that was unpleasant or painful or from dental “pain and horror” stories told by others. Thanks to the many advances in dentistry made over the years, most of today’s dental procedures are considerably less painful or even pain-free.
- Fear of injections or fear the injection won’t work. Many people are terrified of needles, especially when inserted into their mouth. Beyond this fear, others fear that the anesthesia hasn’t yet taken effect or wasn’t a large enough dose to eliminate any pain before the dental procedure begins.
- Fear of anesthetic side effects. Some people fear the potential side effects of anesthesia such as dizziness, feeling faint, or nausea. Others don’t like the numbness or “fat lip” associated with local anesthetics.
- Feelings of helplessness and loss of control. It’s common for people to feel these emotions considering the situation — sitting in a dental chair with your mouth wide open, unable to see what’s going on.
- Embarrassment and loss of personal space. Many people feel uncomfortable about the physical closeness of the dentist or hygienist to their face. Others may feel self-conscious about the appearance of their teeth or possible mouth odors.
Our Team Can Help
The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with Dr. Koehne and our team. Once we know what your fears are, we will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable.
If lack of control is one of your main stressors, actively participating in a discussion with Dr. Koehne and our team about your treatment can ease your tension. Ask us to explain what’s happening at every stage of the procedure. This way you can mentally prepare for what’s to come. Another helpful strategy is to establish a signal — such as raising your hand — when you want us to immediately stop. Use this signal whenever you are uncomfortable, need to rinse your mouth, or simply need to catch your breath.
We are always open to discussing your options with you. Consulting with you regarding what your dental visit will entail. Working together to work with you and your comfort level.
If nervousness, stress, fear, or anxiety have caused you to skip appointments or avoid dental care completely, please contact our team. Dentistry is constantly evolving by offering new technology and treatment methods with patient safety and comfort in mind. Talk to our team about your fears or concerns and allow us to work with you. Ignoring your oral health can have serious repercussions and lead to more necessary treatments. Contact our team to schedule your visit today.