What Causes of Dental Anxiety?

What Causes of Dental Anxiety?

Millions of Americans struggle with dental anxiety, or dental fear, including about 30% of dental students. In fact, so many people suffer from dental anxiety that psychologists have dedicated an entire field of study to it.  

It may be somewhat comforting to know you’re not alone, but it probably doesn’t help ease your nerves as your dental appointment approaches. At the private practice of Robert F. Wilcox, DMD, in Butte, Montana, we understand how frustrating dental anxiety can be.

We also know that understanding the cause of your anxiety and the options available can go a long way in making a trip to our office easier. That’s why Dr. Wilcox and our dental experts created this informative post.

Understanding why you have dental anxiety

Dental anxiety describes a wide variety of fears, phobias, anxious feelings, and even panic related to visiting the dentist or having dental work. This common condition can trigger such physical symptoms as dizziness, nausea, and shortness of breath. 

Some dental fear or nervousness is normal, but when your fear becomes excessive or irrational, you may have dental anxiety. Unfortunately, people with dental anxiety are less likely to visit a dentist, triggering an increased number of dental issues and the need for even more dental work.   

There are many different kinds of dental fears, and the reasons this condition develops vary. Nearly 40% of people with dental anxiety cite fear of pain as the reason they have dental fear. 

Other common causes linked to dental anxiety include:

Some people also report worrying about the cost of dental work as a trigger for dental anxiety, and many people have one or more causes of the condition. 

Tips to overcome dental anxiety

We want you to be comfortable and confident when you visit our office, so here’s a look at our top tips for overcoming dental anxiety.  

Be honest about your fears

The first step in overcoming your dental anxiety is being honest with yourself and our dental team. We need to know you’re anxious about visiting the dentist so we can tailor your treatments to meet your needs. 

For example, Dr. Wilcox may offer you breaks during your appointment or instruct you to let him know if your anxiety is creeping in. He can also break up extensive dental work into shorter appointments over several weeks or months if necessary.  

Use distractions to your benefit

You may wish you were on your phone less, but if you have dental anxiety, using your phone to distract you before and during your appointment can be helpful. Bring earbuds or a headset and try listening to music or an engaging podcast to help keep your mind off what’s happening at your appointment. 

Give relaxation techniques a try

If you haven’t tried relaxation techniques before your dental appointments, give them a chance. Different people find different techniques helpful. Some options to try include:

These methods help calm your central nervous system and keep you distracted during your appointment. 

Find comfort in numbers

Having a friend or family member come with you to your appointment can be a tremendous source of comfort. Not only can your dental partner distract you with conversation, but their presence also provides much-needed reassurance and support. 

Consider sedation dentistry

Some of our patients with dental phobias find help with sedation dentistry. This type of dentistry uses medications to help alleviate your anxiety and keep you comfortable during your appointment. 

Dr. Wilcox customizes your oral sedation plan, determining the right oral medications for you based on your history, how anxious you are, your pain tolerance, and what type of dental work you’re having done.

If you struggle with dental anxiety, learn more about how to overcome it by talking to our experienced team. Call our office to schedule an appointment today.

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