Fear of the dentist is a common problem among Americans. In fact, almost half the population of the United States suffers from some level of dental anxiety. For some, the fear is mild. Others experience actual panic attacks at the very thought of entering a dentist’s office. No matter how minor or overwhelming the fear may be, it prevents numerous people from seeing the dentist on a regular basis and getting the care they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
Alleviating the Fear
Many people feel there’s no way to ease the anxiety they feel when they think of booking a dental appointment. Fortunately, that’s not the case. Finding dentists that offer sedation can be an effective solution. Different types of sedation are available, including oral medications, intravenous sedation, and nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. If you’re among the millions who suffer from dental anxiety, chances are one of these options can help.
Why Are People Afraid of the Dentist?
Extreme fear may cause people to postpone visiting the dentist until they have a toothache that’s so unbearable they can no longer keep putting it off. Combining their anxiety with such severe pain may make matters even worse. On top of that, the longer they avoid going to the dentist, the more their fear grows. Why are they afraid, though? People list several reasons for being anxious about visiting the dentist.
Quite a few people have had bad experiences with dentists in the past. Maybe the dentist tried to extract a tooth before the numbing medications kicked in. Perhaps a dentist diagnosed several issues that required immediate attention but refused to help without several thousand dollars in upfront payment. It could simply be that a dentist was particularly hateful to them at some point. In some cases, people’s fear of the dentist comes solely from horror stories they’ve heard from others rather than firsthand experience.
Fear of Pain
Physical pain can take its toll on a person especially if it’s severe and chronic. Of course, fear of pain can have an even more profound impact. Many people are afraid to go to the dentist because they’re leery of the pain they might feel from dental procedures.
Too Much Going On
Another common cause of dental anxiety is all the tools, bright lights, unfamiliar equipment, and other factors in the dental exam room environment. It can be a lot to take in particularly if you’re confined to a chair with no way to get away from it all.
Feelings of Vulnerability
Feeling the dental chair recline with you in it can be intimidating. When the lights come closer and the dentist and technicians crowd in with needles, placing foreign objects in your mouth, it can certainly make you feel vulnerable. It’s a bit like being a small child with an adult towering over you and scolding you for something you didn’t even realize you did wrong.
Breathing difficulties can also cause people to fear going to the dentist. Some struggle to breathe freely when they’re lying on their backs. Others can’t breathe well through their noses when the dentist is working on their teeth. Being unable to breathe well is a frightening experience in its own right and can make minutes seem like hours.
Dental Care without the Fear
Though fear can be a powerful motivator, it shouldn’t keep you from getting the dental care you need. Avoiding trips to the dentist can lead to serious issues down the road. If you experience anxiety over going to the dentist, consider asking about sedation dentistry to help mitigate the issue.