It’s the night before your dental appointment. You are tossing and turning. Hands might be a little sweaty, your heart is beating fast. You cannot stop thinking about seeing your dentist, his needle, his drill. You are suffering from a common disorder known as dental anxiety. Dental anxiety is a term used to describe fear, anxiety, or stress in a dental setting. Dental anxiety affects 9%-20% of our population. It can be seen in children, adults, and the elderly. This malady can keep people away from getting proper treatment. So small problems can become big ones. This condition is treatable. With some insight and understanding going to the dentist can become a walk in the park.
Causes of Dental Anxiety
- Past traumatic experiences with a dentist or other healthcare professional
- Trauma to head and neck
- Abuse, physical or emotional
- Generalized depression
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Violation of personal space, especially the mouth
- Fear of loss of control
- Trust issues
- Psychological problems, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia
- Triggers, needles, drills, fear of pain, swallowing, “white coat anxiety”
Signs of Anxiety
- Tachycardia – rapid heart rate
- Syncope (fainting because of low blood pressure)
- Visible distress, crying, panic attack
- Using humor or aggression to mask anxiety
- Avoidance – not addressing the anxiety of the dental problems can lead to more severe problems. Emotionally anxiety can turn into phobias, fillings could evolve into crowns. This is referred to as “the vicious cycle of dental anxiety”.
- Lifestyle factors that lead to poor oral health can also lead to serious medical problems, i.e. heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke, and in some cases cancer.
Managing Dental Anxiety
- Seeing a psychologist – Cognitive Behaviorist Therapy has been very effective
- Deep breathing exercises – 5 seconds in followed by five seconds out, ten breaths
- Distractions such as favorite music
- Guided imagery – mentally picturing an ideal, bucolic space
- Progressive muscle relaxation – through cranial sacral therapy
- Nitrous oxide -”happy gas” readily available at 172 NYC Dental-We mix nitrous oxide with oxygen to mellow patients out; this is a quick, safe treatment that wears off immediately
- Oral medications – ie Valium 5 mg, taken 1 hr prior to dental treatment. Patients must be accompanied by an adult to have this modality.
- In Hospital – Conscious sedation, IV drip, and general anesthesia
Visit 172 NYC Dental Today
At 172 NYC Dental, we treat the whole person, not only their dental procedure. We pride ourselves on making our patients feel comfortable and safe. We are the dentists for anxiety patients. We nip anxiety in the bud, old school, by forming long-lasting relationships based on trust and clinical expertise. Please contact us; let your smile be radiant and throw your fears away.