Is dental anxiety affecting your smile?

Is dental anxiety affecting your smile?

If you postpone dental visits because of anxiety, your oral health could be suffering.

Does the thought of visiting the dentist give you the chills? Do you often put off dental treatment because of feelings of anxiety and fear at the prospect of undergoing a procedure? You are not alone — dental anxiety is a common issue that affects many people.

In fact, an estimated third of all Australians are anxious about seeing their dentist and a lot of adults would rather postpone their appointments than address their oral health concerns.

So, how do you know if you have dental anxiety? And what can you do to manage it?

What are the signs of dental anxiety?

While many people feel some level of nervousness about visiting the dentist, mild uneasiness should not force you to put off check-up appointments and any necessary dental treatments. If, however, you avoid seeing your dentist altogether because of your fear, it is possible that you have dental anxiety. In fact, those with dental anxiety may even experience severe symptoms when they are due to undergo dental treatment. These symptoms may include panic attacks; sweating; feeling faint; and low blood pressure.

Dental anxiety can be caused by numerous factors, and each individual is unique. Some of the possible causes include a general fear of pain; a previous bad experience; a fear of needles and/or drilling; and a history of generalised anxiety disorder.

How can you cope with dental anxiety?

If you feel nervous about undergoing dental treatment, one of the best things you can do is to discuss your fears directly with your dentist. Your dentist will do what they can to make your procedure as comfortable as possible and will also let you know exactly what to expect at each point in the process. Sometimes, being informed can make you feel better equipped and less anxious about going through a dental treatment.

You may also find it helpful to do some breathing exercises before and during your appointment. Deep breathing, as well as meditation, can have a calming effect and make you feel more relaxed throughout your procedure.

If you struggle with moderate or severe anxiety, your dentist may recommend IV sedation. Once the sedation takes effect, you will feel drowsy and much more relaxed. You will remain conscious throughout your treatment but will be in a highly relaxed state.

How does dental anxiety affect oral health?

If you are overwhelmed with anxiety at the prospect of visiting your dentist, you are likely to avoid appointments altogether or to wait for too long before seeking dental treatment even if you are in pain. This can cause small oral health issues to become more and more severe over time.

When you go for regular check-ups and cleans, your dentist can identify and resolve any potential issues at an early stage before they become complicated down the line. Issues like tooth decay and gum disease can often be easily addressed when they are detected early. If, however, you avoid these routine appointments, oral health issues can become serious problems and you may even suffer from problems like tooth loss, chronic bad breath, and periodontal disease.

How can we help?

At Murwillumbah Dental, we understand that dental anxiety is a common concern, but we don’t want our patients to put off treatments just because they may have had a bad experience in the past. For this reason, we offer IV sedation — this ensures that your dental experience is comfortable and stress-free.

We also encourage you to share any fears that you have with us. Our team can address any questions or concerns that you have and will provide you with all the information that you need to feel comfortable going ahead with the procedure.

If you would like to find out more about IV sedation and what it involves at Murwillumbah Dental, please have a look here.

To arrange an appointment to see us, please get in touch with us here or give us a call on (02) 6672 1068.