If the thought of your regular dentist visits gives you anxiety, you’re not alone. Surveys show that 9 to 15 percent of Americans, around 40 million people, face anxiety when it comes to their oral health. The severity may range from anxiety and stress to full blown panic attacks at the thought of going to their dental appointments.
Some common reasons people may get anxious at the thought of going to the dentist include:
- Fear of Pain. Many people are afraid that cleanings or procedures will cause discomfort or pain. In a survey of people who haven’t seen a dentist in over 12 months, 6% of people said fear of pain was the reason.
- Control Issues. For chronic sufferers of anxiety, situations where there is a loss of control is a major trigger. This is true for people who fear elevators, airplanes, and yes, leaning back in that dental chair.
- Past Experiences. Many people get anxious going to the dentist due to bad prior experiences. They may have had a painful experience in the past, and haven’t gone back, or seen the improvements made in the field of dentistry to help prevent those experiences.
- Many people feel embarrassed at the thought of someone closely examining their mouth, making them feel like all their faults are under a microscope. Oftentimes there is a particular dental issue that makes them feel self-conscious and unwilling to face a dentist. This forms a vicious cycle because avoiding dental exams may exacerbate the problem and make the person even more embarrassed than before.
Those are all normal reasons for feeling anxious, but they shouldn’t stop you from taking care of your oral health. For those people who are anxious at the thought of pain, there are methods to help reduce or eliminate those painful experiences. Many procedures are now done with lasers dentistry which can provide short, pain-free healing times. Making a point to maintain an oral health routine can help reduce sensitivity in the gums and the potential for pain, as well.
As far as feeling embarrassed, it’s important to understand that your dental team is not there to judge you. They care about your general health and understand that you’re nervous. Your dentist has seen many of the issues you may be embarrassed about and treated those issues with compassion. After all, they wouldn’t have picked a field based on a passion for helping people if they saw it any other way. Speak up about being nervous or embarrassed, and without a doubt, you will be treated with compassion rather than judgment.
If those reasons weren’t enough to help you ditch the dental anxiety, remember that your kids learn from watching you. You may be taking your kids to their regular dental visits, but if they see you blanching at the thought of going to your dental appointments, they may start to fear their own appointments. As adults, they may feel that same dental anxiety and embarrassment that you’re currently fighting. As parents, we want better for our kids and I’m sure we’d never want them to deal with the same fears and anxiety.
Remember, you’re not alone! Your dental team can help you with any dental anxiety you may have. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment, and see just how caring your dentistry can be, at (586) 247-3500!