If dental anxiety is preventing you from getting regular check-ups and professional cleanings, you’re seriously compromising your oral health.
Fear about seeing a dentist is a common problem. Research indicates that three in four people experience some level of apprehension about dental visits. Other studies show that 15 per cent of people refuse to see a dentist because they’re too frightened.
Even if you maintain a solid routine of dental hygiene at home, routine visits to the dentist are essential to detect signs of potential problems before they escalate into serious issues.
And without teeth cleaning from a dental hygienist, there’s a greater danger of tartar building up in your mouth, causing cavities and/or gum disease. Tartar – bacteria-ridden plaque that has calcified – can only be removed with professional cleaning.
To prevent these sort of issues, an understanding of why you’re experiencing dental apprehension is the first step towards overcoming your anxiety.
Factors that typically cause dental anxiety include:
- Fear of pain.
- Previous bad dental experiences.
- Fear of needles.
Understanding Your Fears
All types of dental anxiety are based on illogical concerns, so understanding that your fears are irrational is a big step towards overcoming them.
If concerns about pain or previous bad experiences are the root of your dental apprehension, it’s likely you’ve avoided dental visits for some time and don’t realise that advances in dentistry have led to a much greater emphasis on patient comfort.
If you’re embarrassed because lack of dental care has resulted in unsightly teeth, bear in mind that experienced dentists are used to dealing with this situation in a sympathetic, compassionate way.
Sedation Techniques to Minimize Apprehension
If your main worry about getting dental treatment is a fear of needles (belonephobia), modern dental sedation techniques could provide the answer to your prayers.
Oral conscious sedation – using medications that eliminate apprehensions about pain and discomfort – avoids the need for an intravenous injection because it simply involves taking a pill prior to treatment.
While powerful sedatives like barbiturates carry a risk of addiction and unpleasant side effects, benzodiazepines, like those used in sedation dentistry, are non-addictive and have minimal side effects.
Oral conscious sedation may be right for you if:
- You have a phobia associated with dental procedures.
- You have a particularly sensitive mouth.
- You are resistant to local anesthetic.
- You have a general anxiety disorder.
Other types of dental sedation that help to put nervous patients at ease include:
- Nitrous oxide (laughing gas), which helps you to remain calm during treatment but soon wears off.
- Deep sedation and general anaesthesia, which render the patient almost or completely unconscious.
Getting Help in a Dental Emergency
If your anxiety has led you to avoid routine dental visits and professional cleanings, you’re at greater risk of encountering a dental emergency.
Getting fast treatment in the event of a dental emergency is vital to prevent the problem from becoming even more serious.
Kitchener & Waterloo Emergency Dental Centres provide emergency and non emergency dental care in the Kitchener and Waterloo areas.