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Dental anxiety is common and can manifest itself in panic attacks and other symptoms. It can lead to complete avoidance of the dentist. This eventually leads to problems, as preventive dental care is needed to avoid serious problems. If you struggle with a fear of the dentist, it is important to know that you are not the only one. And that there are a lot of things you can do to overcome that fear, to still receive the care you need.
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Dental anxiety, also known as dentophobia, is a psychological condition in which a person has an overwhelming fear of dental treatments. There are also people who have a fear of the dentist himself. The fear can be extreme enough that a person finds even calling for an appointment too scary. This fear can lead to avoiding important dental care even when there are symptoms, such as pain. This, in turn, can lead to worsening dental problems and even other health problems.
A dental phobia is a common fear and can have several causes. Such as bad experiences with treatments in the past, for example. Others may actually fear possible future pain during treatment. But dental anxiety can also stem from feelings of loss of control, or the uncertainty surrounding the cost of treatment.
People with dental anxiety can exhibit many anxiety symptoms such as:
Which techniques are most effective for dealing with dental anxiety varies from person to person, but here are five tips you can start with:
Discuss your fears with your dentist. There are even dentists specially trained to help people with dental phobia. They can also adjust treatments to keep you as calm as possible.
To distract your thoughts from your anxiety, you can use several things. During the treatment, you can listen to music or hold a stress ball in your hands. There are also dentists who can play a film during treatment.
Try breathing in slowly and deeply through your nose, and exhaling calmly through your mouth while concentrating on your breathing. This technique helps to lower your heart rate, which can calm you down.
There are several relaxation techniques you can try, such as progressive muscle relaxation. This involves consciously relaxing your muscles one by one. Meditation can also help you calm your mind.
If your anxiety is crippling and you find yourself avoiding the dentist, it may be time to talk to a psychologist. The latter can help you understand and eventually control your anxiety.
Preventive dental care is important because it helps prevent problems with your teeth and gums. By undergoing regular checkups and cleanings, problems such as cavities and gum disease are detected. This way, they can be treated before they get worse and require more invasive treatments.
Preventive dental care can also contribute to your overall health, as some conditions can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Preventive care also helps keep dental costs down, by preventing serious problems such as root canal treatments or the placement of crowns.
Frequently asked questions
How do I get rid of my fear of the dentist?
It is important to remember that there are many options to help you overcome this fear. Discuss your fears with your dentist, try relaxation techniques and seek professional help from a psychologist or therapist if needed.
What causes dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety can have a variety of causes. Things that may have created your anxiety include: negative experiences, fear of pain, loss of control, fear of unfamiliar treatments and sounds, embarrassment about oral health and more.
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