Dental Anxiety: Tips to Overcome Your Fear of the Dentist

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Do visits to the dentist make you anxious or nervous? 

Some people don’t look forward to appointments with their dentist. The majority of dental procedures aren’t painful, but for some, the dental examination alone can make them feel anxious and stressed. Most people can manage their feelings of apprehension when visiting the dentist. For those who suffer from dental phobia, however, the thought of a visit to the dentist is completely terrifying. It may be so frightening that they’ll do just about anything to avoid going to a dental appointment.

If not adequately addressed, dental phobia can get worse as time goes by, partly because the emotional stress experienced by these individuals can make dental visits feel even more uncomfortable than they actually are. People who are particularly tense may feel increased or heightened sensations of pain during routine dental procedures. They may also develop stress-related issues in other parts of the body, such as muscle stiffness in the neck or back. Because of their reluctance to visit the dentist and long periods of time between dental visits, people with dental phobia often have a greater risk of gum disease and premature tooth loss.

What Causes the Fear?

People develop dental anxieties and phobias for various reasons. Some of the most common include.

Pain: The fear of pain is most common in adults. This may be because their early dental visits took place before many of the current advances in pain-free dentistry had been introduced.

Feelings of helplessness:  Many people develop fears about situations over which they have no control. It’s common for people to feel out of control when sitting in the dentist’s chair, which, in turn, may cause anxiety.

Embarrassment: Patients may feel ashamed to have a stranger looking inside of their mouth. This may especially be true if they’re self-conscious about how their teeth appear to others.

Negative experiences in the past:  Anyone who has experienced pain or discomfort during previous dental visits is more likely to feel anxious the next time around.

Fortunately, dental phobia – like other phobias – can be successfully overcome with the right approach. 

Keys to Overcoming Dental Anxiety

While dental anxiety may seem like an insurmountable problem, there are ways for you to get it under control. First, make sure that your dentist knows about your feelings of fear and anxiety. Once your dentist is aware of your discomfort, he or she can find ways to make you feel more comfortable during your dental cleanings and checkups. However, if after expressing your fears to your dentist, he doesn’t bother to make any adjustments, it may be time for you to look for a new dentist.

Don’t let extreme fear of the dentist put you at greater risk for dental problems. Make your next appointment with Dr. Flanagan today. Our pain-free dental practice is designed to provide the most low-stress experience possible. When it’s time for your visit, Dr. Flanagan can spend time discussing your fears and develop a plan to help you feel more at ease during future preventive dental care visits.

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