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Dental Anxiety Management

Dental Anxiety Management in Jackson provided by Drs. Bookman, Goldberg, and Seto at .

Older woman with a mask on for sedation dental work.Everyone is afraid of something. You may be afraid of heights (acrophobia), spiders (arachnophobia), or enclosed spaces (claustrophobia). Fear of going to the dentist, or dentophobia, is not an unheard-of fear, either. The American Dental Association estimates that going to a dentist makes over one-third of American adults very anxious. Over 10 percent of Americans have an extreme fear of visiting the dentist, with around 3 percent having such an extreme fear they will not visit the dentist at all. If you are afraid of visiting the dentist, there are ways that Artistic Dental can help you manage your anxiety.

Understanding Dental Anxiety

People who experience dental anxiety show increased levels of stress, anxiety, or even fear when they walk into a dental office. All anxiety stems from the response of your body to a perceived fear. Your body is constantly on the lookout for things that will cause harm, but if you are anxious, your body becomes hypervigilant, which means walking into our dental office can make your heart beat fast, your breathing more rapid, and your palms start sweating.

Causes and Triggers of Dental Anxiety

Like other phobias, dental anxiety has roots in experiences you have had. One of the most common reasons people have dental anxiety is because they have had a traumatic experience at their dental office. Some people have dental anxiety because they have experienced previous trauma to their head or neck. If you have a history of experiencing domestic violence or abuse, you may be anxious about visiting the dentist as well. Some people have trust issues or have trouble giving someone - even a dental practitioner - a little control over a part of their bodies, such as their mouths and teeth.

Mental health conditions can make the fear of visiting the dentist worse as well. If you have generalized anxiety disorder, a history of depression, or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), you have a higher-than-average chance of experiencing dental anxiety.

Impact of Dental Anxiety on Oral Health

The biggest issue with dental anxiety is its effect on oral health. The more anxious you are, the more difficult it will be for you to force yourself to visit the dentist. However, visiting our dentist is crucial for your dental health. People who do not regularly visit the dentist do not get their teeth checked for gum disease and tooth decay. If you do not visit a dentist, you suffer from poorer oral health than people who visit our dentist regularly. Not visiting the dentist means you do not get your cavities filled, which means your teeth can become infected, which can lead to tooth loss as well as mouth infections or abscesses. You can also suffer from severe gum disease, leading to tooth loss as well as poor overall health. It is so important to manage your dentophobia so that you can visit our dentist for regular checkups.

Strategies for Managing Dental Anxiety

One of the first things you need to do if you suffer from dental anxiety is talk to our dentist. Dentists have ways to create a calming dental environment and may have some suggestions to help you manage your dental anxiety.

Next, think about what you can do as a dental patient to help manage your anxiety. Many adults who have dental anxiety begin working on it by learning relaxation techniques and meditation to calm their thoughts prior to the dental visit. You may also be able to distract yourself by listening to music, a book, or a podcast while our dentist examines your teeth.

One of the most effective ways you can become a partner in your own anxiety management is to communicate with our dentist. Some patients have a prearranged signal with a hand motion to the dentist where the patient can request to stop treatment for a few minutes or delay until the next visit. Many dentists understand dental phobias and are willing to work with their patients to ensure they have as relaxing an experience as possible.

Long-Term Strategies for Overcoming Dental Anxiety

If you experience severe dentophobia, this is the time you need to speak with our dentist about alternative techniques. There are several medications that can be helpful for people with anxiety who have severe dentophobia. First, some patients benefit from oral medication to relax them before their dental visit. Usually, dentists prescribe their patients one or two oral pills - one to take an hour before the visit and another to take when they arrive for the procedure. These oral medications do not sedate you, but they do allow you to be more relaxed during dental treatments and procedures.

Another option for patients with serious dental anxiety is nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide is a gas that dentists administer to relax patients prior to a procedure or dental treatment. Once the dentist turns off the nitrous oxide, patients no longer feel the effects of the gas. Many patients benefit from the use of nitrous oxide, but it can cause nausea in other patients, so you should discuss that with our dentist.

Another option for patients with dental anxiety is IV sedation. With IV sedation, you will most likely fall asleep during the dental procedure or have very little memory of the procedure itself. IV sedation means that you cannot drive yourself home or operate machinery after you awaken. Usually, IV sedation is not used for preventative dentistry unless you have a severe dental phobia or if you are undergoing a lengthy procedure.

If none of these sedation techniques appeal to you, you may want to consult with a counselor or a therapist to understand why you are anxious about visiting the dentist. For many people, gradually talking about their fears and practicing exposure techniques to dental procedures helps to ease their overall dental anxiety. Over time, you may be able to visit our dentist regularly without much anxiety at all.

What Should I Do?

If you are afraid of dental visits, we want to help. We know how difficult it can be for patients to visit our dentist. Why not give Artistic Dental a call at (848) 222-3984 to talk to us about your fears? We can arrange a consultation with our dentist, or you can just stop by to visit. Let us help you manage your anxiety and move toward better dental health.
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Dental Anxiety Management in Jackson NJ
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