What is Dental Anxiety?
Visiting a dentist can be downright terrifying for some people – so much so, that they avoid going completely. This can lead to a number of dental problems which could have been avoided had they visited the dentist early on.
For some, whilst there is fear and worry, they can still manage to make the appointment and go, especially if they are suffering from a dental problem. This is known as dental anxiety and is a term used to explain stress, fear, anxiety, and possibly panic in a dentist’s office (or other dental setting). People suffering from dental anxiety will often have certain triggers such as needles, drills, or any other dental instrument or setting.
However, for others, simply thinking about going to the dentist elicits extreme anxiety and fear, to the point where they would rather suffer with dental pain than make an appointment. This extreme reaction can be considered a phobia known as dental phobia and is considered a legitimate mental health disorder. It results in an irrational fear and prevents people from going to the dentist.
Certain other mental health conditions such as generalised anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD, stress, etc. can increase a person’s risk for dental anxiety or dental phobia.
Signs and Symptoms of Dental Anxiety
If you experience any of these (in relation to a dental setting), you could be suffering from dental anxiety:
- Severe perspiration
- Increased heart rate (racing heartbeat)
- Heart palpitations
- Distress signs such as crying, shaking, and hysteria or panic
- Low blood pressure
Dental Anxiety Treatment Options
Anxiety in any form can deeply impact your daily life which can lead to several physical and mental problems. Dental anxiety can lead to a complete avoidance of the dentist which could result in poor oral health and the loss of teeth.
Most patients who suffer from dental anxiety are able to combat some of their fears and worries through techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, hypnosis, etc.
For others, whose dental anxiety is too severe to be helped by these methods, there are other treatment options that your dentist can recommend helping you:
- Dental Wand: At Aperture Dental, Dr Erik can administer a small dose of analgesia gently over a prolonged period of time making you more comfortable during your consultation
- Relative analgesia (happy gas):This is simply nitrous oxide which is also known as laughing or happy gas. A mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide is given to patients via a gas mask and can help people relax and remain calm during their treatment. You will remain awake during your treatment and are able to answer questions and follow any directions. The effects wear off quickly, so you won’t have to worry about driving home under the influence of the gas.
- Anxiety relieving medication:Oral anxiety relieving medication is another option for combatting dental anxiety. Patients are given the medication at least one hour before their appointment to help them calm their minds and relax. It is important to remember that anxiety relieving medication should only be taken when prescribed by a doctor, so speak to yours about your dental worries and fears before making your appointment.
- General anaesthesia:This is one of the more extreme dental anxiety treatment options and is performed at a hospital by the dentist and an anaesthetist. Through this method, you will be put to sleep completely during your dental treatment and may feel nauseous afterwards. You will also need a longer time to recover than other sedation methods. You will need to see the anaesthetist prior to your dental appointment and will be unable to drive yourself home after your dental treatment.
These different methods of handling dental anxiety or dental phobia are great ways to get nervous patients to see the dentist however they will not rid a person of their anxiety.
Speaking to a professional and learning about how to properly cope with your anxiety is best way to overcome dental anxiety. Although, in the meantime, one of the mentioned methods can help you get the healthy and happy smile you deserve.
Dental Anxiety Treatment Options in Sunnybank Hills
Do you suffer from dental anxiety but want to visit the dentist? Then let us help you. Learn more about our dental anxiety treatment options by booking an appointment with us by calling 07 3188 9477 or 0422 205 775, making an online booking, or completing the query form on our Contact Us page.