We all know that going to the dentist for routine cleanings and checkups is necessary for a healthy, beautiful smile. Dentists are able to treat dental problems and spot early signs of potentially serious oral health issues. While dental appointments aren’t always fun, they are crucial to maintaining great oral health.
For some individuals, dental appointments aren’t just a burdensome task. Their fear and anxiety over going to the dentist can be a major roadblock from enjoying a healthy smile. In fact, researchers believe that there are about 30 to 40 million Americans that avoid seeing the dentist due to fear and anxiety. Not going to the dentist twice a year can allow for problems like gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss to occur. To explain more about dental anxiety, Dr. Devang Shah gives his readers here in Dacula, GA an in-depth look at the causes and possible solutions for dental fear.
Although phobia and anxiety typically go hand-in-hand, they are not the same thing. Dental anxiety is defined as feeling uneasy or anxious before a dental appointment while dental phobia entails a crippling fear. Individuals with dental phobia are terrified or panic stricken at the thought of going to the dentist.
The degree of fear and anxiety patients will feel will range from simply losing sleep the night before to becoming so panic stricken that they faint. This is particularly dangerous because patients can end up avoiding the dentist for years and even decades due to their fear. During this time, minor oral health problems can progress into major issues. For example, minor tooth decay, which can be fixed with a quick filling, can end up progressing to the point where the tooth pulp becomes infected. At this point, patients will experience extreme tooth sensitivity and will need a root canal to treat the issue. This is not just a great deal more painful, but it is also much more expensive than a small filling.
Now that we know a bit more about dental anxiety and phobia, what are the causes of this fear? The root cause of dental fear is different for every person, but we’ve found that some of the most common causes include:
Poor Past Experiences: Researchers have noticed that dental anxiety is more prominent in older adults. They believe that dental anxiety is more common because older adults had poor experiences as children. During this time, we didn’t have the technology we have today, which often meant patients could have painful experiences. No matter what age a patient is, poor experiences in the past can deter a patient from pursuing dental treatment.
Embarrassment: Many patients can feel hopeless about the current state of their oral health and may even feel embarrassed about how long it’s been since they’ve been to a dentist. It’s important to remember that dentists have seen a range of oral health cases and are there to help you without any judgement.
Loss of Control: Sitting in a reclined chair with your mouth being poked and prodded is also a situation that can cause extreme anxiety for patients that don’t want to experience loss of control. For these patients, being in this situation can trigger anxiety.
As we said before, it’s crucial to go to the dentist regularly in order to keep your smile healthy. If dental anxiety is keeping you from going to the dentist, there are several steps you can take including:
Another great option for dealing with dental fear is choosing a dentist you trust! Here at Dental Smiles At Dacula, we strive to make every patient feel comfortable and supported. For more information on the dental services we offer, contact our office today!