What is Dental Anxiety?

If the idea of going to the dentist makes your palms sweat and your heart race, you may be experiencing a condition known as dental anxiety. Dental anxiety occurs when a person feels abnormally nervous or fearful about going to the dentist. Sometimes this alarm can progress into dental phobia, which is indicated by an overwhelming, irrational sense of fear that can keep someone from going to the dentist at all.

At Advanced Dental Care of Richmond, we believe your dental experience should be as relaxing and stress-free as possible. We understand your fears and have been thoroughly trained to assist patients experiencing nervousness and anxiety. Read on to learn more about what dental anxiety is and how you can manage it for your next appointment.

What are The Symptoms and Causes of Dental Anxiety?

Most people express similar concerns and feelings about going to the dentist. If you experience one or more of the feelings below, you may want to speak with your dentist about the options they can provide to ease anxiety and nervousness. Symptoms of dental anxiety include:

• Feeling tense or irritable in the days leading up to your appointment. Sometimes this includes an inability to sleep on the night before your appointment.
• Sitting in the waiting room increases your anxiety or your heart begins to beat faster upon hearing your name called.
• Feeling like you want to cry or leave before or during your appointment. The sight and sound of dental instruments tends to increase your feelings of anxiety.
• Physical symptoms like stomach aches, nausea or headaches may pop up before or during your appointment.
• A sense of panic or feeling like you can’t breathe when your mouth is open during your appointment.

Now that you have a good sense of what dental anxiety looks like, let’s explore some of causes for dental anxiety. Sometimes, simply understanding your fears can help to ease your mind and transform your dental appointments. We’ll take a look at the most common reasons for anxiety during check-ups and procedures.

Fear of pain: Pain is the most common fear for both adults and children going to see the dentist. It usually stems from a previously difficult dental experience, but thankfully, advances in dental care have made processes like check-ups, cleanings and cavity fillings virtually pain-free.

Feeling out of control or helpless: Many people dislike the idea that they can’t see or understand what’s going on while the dentist is working in their mouth. They feel exposed and vulnerable which leads to feelings of anxiety and tension. If this is one of your concerns, speak with your dentist about your fears as they may be able to ease your nerves before or during your appointment.

Feeling embarrassed: If you’ve had trouble maintaining healthy teeth and gums in the past, you may feel slightly embarrassed about the state of your mouth. It can also make people nervous to have dentists and hygienists so close to their personal space. It’s helpful to remember that dentists don’t expect you to have perfect oral health and that their job is to help you fix these issues moving forward.

What Can You Do About Dental Anxiety?

At Advanced Dental Care of Richmond, we believe one of the best ways to ease dental anxiety is through sedation dentistry. We offer many options, from nitrous oxide to IV sedation, and Dr. Straus has made significant efforts to stay updated in the field of sedation dentistry. If dental anxiety is interfering with your oral care, please don’t hesitate to call our office to discuss your options. We’re confident we can find something to fit your needs. Call 804-741-4177 to set your appointment or click here for more information.