For some, dental anxiety is completely unheard of. For others, however, it sounds all too familiar. Dental anxiety is a term people use to describe the anxiety, stress, and panic when in a dental setting or just before a dental procedure.
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A lot of people have negative feelings associated with dental procedures due to the intimidating and scary apparatus and the pain associated with some of the procedures. Not only do children have dental anxiety, but a lot of people carry this into adulthood.
It’s important to know that dental anxiety can be treated, improved, and that there are ways we can manage and cope with it.
Causes of Dental Anxiety
There are multiple reasons why people have dental anxiety. If you experience any of the below sentiments when thinking of going to the dentists, then you may have dental anxiety.
- Feeling helpless and not having control – People may have dental anxiety because they feel out of control and feel entirely helpless when on the dentist’s chair while the dentist does their job. In this position, you have to be still even though you can’t see whats going on, hence why people get so nervous.
- Fear of pain – probably a feeling that most people who have dental anxiety have, the fear of pain is why people dread going to the dentist’s office. Although most dental procedures are quite stock and standard, you can experience feelings of pain depending on the type of procedure and the condition of your teeth. As the dental industry has advanced over the past few years, most dental procedures are pain-free and are unlikely you will feel any great significant pain.
- Fear of being injected – one of the most common types of phobias related to the medical industry, the fear of being injected is very common for people with dental anxiety. Although basic procedures will not entail you getting one, it does happen for certain procedures. Another fear people have is that anaesthesia injected doesn’t take effect, resulting in more pain during the procedure later on.
- Shame or embarrassment – Some people may feel shame or embarrassment regarding the condition of their teeth. People who are self-conscious or are afraid of what the dentist may think of them are a symptom of dental anxiety.
How to Cope with Dental Anxiety
1. Speak up
Speak to your doctor or dentist about how you’re feeling. They may know how to ease your unsteadiness and make you feel more comfortable. Just like normal anxiety, dental anxiety should not be kept to yourself as it may worsen your mental state. Speak with your friends and close ones about how you’re feeling. You will feel a lot better before the procedure.
2. Let your mind wander off
During the procedure, let your mind wander off and take your thoughts away from the procedure. This may be very difficult to do if you are nervous or fearful, but its the best way to let you escape your mental state of fear and dread.
You can do this by thinking of other matters that interest you or help you feel relaxed. Picture yourself at home, in your garden or anywhere that makes you comfortable.
3. Focus on breathing regularly and slowly
When people are nervous, it’s tough to breathe steadily. Holding your breath will be a common occurrence; however, it won’t do you any favours. Try to focus on breathing steadily. This will help you to stay calm and avoid panic and fidgetting around during the procedure.
4. Choose a low-stress appointment time
When scheduling your procedure, schedule a time that’s low stress for you so when you go to the procedure, you don’t have to worry about anything other than that.
Knowing your schedule around you, you will feel somewhat in control of your surroundings and can ease your anxiety. Most dentists are open on the weekend in the UAE and maybe a good time for you to book in.
5. Get some good reviews
Check online reviews of the dentist you are visiting. By looking at other people’s pleasant experiences, you may feel more comfortable with the procedure, the doctor and dentistry. It will also help you to avoid the dentist’s that aren’t so great.
6. Listen to some tunes
Find out from the doctor if you can use earphones. As long as they don’t cause a problem for the dentist during the procedure, then there’s nothing wrong with it. It can help your mind escape and make you feel comfortable. It also enables you to get away from the intimidating sounds of some of the noisy tools.
Keep In Mind
Having dental anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of as you aren’t the only one who suffers from it. Your dentist is probably quite aware that they may be associated with fear, so being embarrassed about it is not to be ashamed of.
Always be aware that you are at the dentist’s office for your benefit. If you have general anxiety, depression or a mental health disorder that you believe may be triggering dental anxiety, speak with a professional psychiatrist or even your doctor on how you can approach it.
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