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Dental anxiety – How do you cope with it?

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I cannot count the number of times a patient has said to me: “I don’t like dentists” or the many times I have seen fear etched on their faces in the waiting room, not to mention the many no-shows or patients that turn up to the clinic for emergency attention with a deteriorating oral health condition. This is the face of dental anxiety.{{more}}

Dentists’ offices always remind patients of the pain and cries from drilling. Dental phobia is one of the major blocks to not visiting a dentist’s office and escaping treatment and letting things go bad.

If you want to determine if you have dental anxiety, then just ask yourself these questions:

1. Are you afraid of your dentist?

2. Are you scared of going to the dental clinic?

3. Do you avoid going to the dentist?

4. Do you always try to cancel or postpone your dental appointments?

5. Do anxiety and dread rest alongside your calendar next to the words “dental appointment”?

If yes. you are a part of more than 50 per cent of patients who suffer from some form of dental anxiety, i.e. mild, moderate or severe. And nearly 30 per cent of those who suffer from moderate or severe anxiety tend to avoid dental check-ups until an emergency arises.

Dental anxiety or dental fear is the fear of receiving dental treatment. It is associated with past experiences of stress or pain during a dental treatment, especially during childhood, or stories from parents, older siblings or friends. People tend to be scared of the dental clinic. Dental anxiety usually results in a vicious circle, where dentally anxious people avoid treatment due to dental fear/phobia until an emergency occurs, resulting in invasive treatments, which may be troublesome or stressful, thus reinforcing their dental fear, as well as being more costly.

Emotionally, the anxious person has symptoms of fear, panic, anticipation of something bad or dreadful, etc. Also dentally anxious patients have reported symptoms of palpitations, restlessness, headache, nausea, fatigue, stomach ache, nightmares, sweating etc.

With all this said, the adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ also applies to oral health. It’s good to keep good oral hygiene and to go for regular dental check-ups, rather than ending up in a severe stage of a dental disease.

COPING WITH DENTAL ANXIETY

Confidence in your dentist: Most dental phobias have their roots in previous experiences with in-expert dentists. To overcome your anxiety, you should select a good dentist. A good dentist has these qualities:

1. Is very competent.

2. Is tolerant and understands the patient’s mental condition.

3. Attempts to make each appointment as pain-free as possible.

4. Honestly cares about you and is concerned about your health.

5. Understands your phobia and treats you accordingly.

Understanding the procedure: If you understand the mechanics of the procedure that will be done on you, you will be able to visualize what will happen after the said operation. You can use that visualization to help yourself focus on the positive aspect of the operation and not the pain. This is what you call psychological conditioning.

Have a great week,readers; dental health is key.

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