Most people don’t look forward to visiting the dentist, but they still go and have their dental work done without much worry. Those with dental anxiety or dental phobia, however, put off going to the dentist because of their crippling fear of the experience. Dental anxiety and phobia is a serious problem because avoiding the dentist leads to poor oral health, which can adversely affect not only your mouth but also the rest of your body’s health and vitality. Understanding the symptoms and causes of dental phobia and anxiety can help you determine if you or a loved one suffers from it.
What is Dental Anxiety or Dental Phobia?
Everyone experiences worry and fear, but anxiety and phobias are abnormal degrees of worry that often create a paralyzing fear. People with dental anxiety or phobia have such an unreasonable fear of going to the dentist that they would rather suffer pain from cavities or periodontal (gum) disease and embarrassment from broken teeth than seek the treatment that they need. This terror of having dental work done is a serious problem because it often leads to unnecessary suffering, low self-esteem, and health complications.
Symptoms of Dental Anxiety and Phobia
Some common symptoms of dental anxiety include:
- Tendency to cry when thinking of going to the dentist
- Feeling nauseous about the thought of going to the dentist
- Experience panic at the thought of having work done on your mouth
- Sweating or nausea at the sight of dental instruments
If you experience these symptoms, you may have dental anxiety.
Causes of Dental Anxiety and Phobia
There are several common causes of dental anxiety, including:
- Sensitivity to pain: Those who have a lower threshold of pain tend to experience higher levels of anxiety when faced with the idea of dental procedures. If they have had painful experiences in the past when dental technology was not as sophisticated and may have resulted in more painful procedures, they are even more likely to exhibit dental anxiety.
- Fear of needles: Many people have a phobia of needles, and dread the dentist because they fear receiving numbing shots if they have a cavity or root canal that requires treatment.
- Embarrassment: The mouth is an intimate part of the body, and some people have an aversion to letting people touch their mouth. If someone has been avoiding the dentist, then they may also be embarrassed about the condition of their teeth and even more reluctant to have someone working inside their mouth.
- Loss of control: Another cause of dental anxiety and phobia is the fear of losing control. People may experience this when placed in situations they cannot control, such as flying on an airplane or being sedated for an operation. This fear comes to some when they sit in a dentist chair because they cannot see what is going on inside their mouth and they feel out of control of what is happening to them.
If you or a loved one has dental anxiety and phobia, you are not alone. Approximately 30 to 40 million Americans suffer from it. Fortunately, a growing awareness of the problem and advances in technology have led many dentists, like Dr. Gary Bram at Dental Expressions, to adopt practices designed to alleviate dental anxiety and phobia. To learn more about how Dr. Gary Bram and his compassionate team can help you enjoy a stress-free dental visit, contact us today at (718) 260-6175.