As our patients at Family Dentistry in Colorado Springs know, regular dental care in Colorado Springs is vital for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. However, one of the most common reasons people avoid going to the dentist is dental anxiety. Essentially, dental anxiety is when a person is afraid, stressed, or anxious about being in a dental setting.
If you’ve dealt with dental anxiety, you’re not alone. The National Library of Medicine offers multiple studies that show that the experience is universal and affects people of all ages and cultures. Indeed, one study estimates that 36 percent of the population is affected by dental anxiety, with 12 percent experiencing dental phobia.
(Dental phobia is an extreme form of dental anxiety, leaving sufferers panicked and terrified of going to the dentist. They’re usually aware that their fear is irrational but are unable to do anything about it without help.)
If you or someone you know is dealing with dental anxiety, here are some tips to help ease fears and get back in the dental chair.
Reasons for dental anxiety
First, it’s important to understand where those fears are coming from. Since there’s no one reason why people experience dental anxiety or dental phobia, we’ve listed some of the most common ones:
- The fear of pain is one of the top reasons many avoid the dentist. It may stem from an unpleasant early dental experience or from dental horror stories told by others. Fortunately, most of today’s dental procedures are a lot less painful (or even pain-free) than even a decade ago.
- The fear of needles and the sound of dental tools is another. Many people are afraid of needles, especially when inserted into their mouth. Fortunately, advances have been made in making dental treatments less invasive, including quieter drills and painless numbing agents.
- Dislike of the smell of certain chemicals and a hospital-like environment is another reason listed in studies for avoiding the dentist. These days, many practices are ditching the sterile environments of the past for warmer, more inviting spaces and tranquil music.
- Feeling a lack of control and/or helplessness while sitting in the dental chair while a dentist or hygienist works in your personal space.
What you can do
Even though dental anxiety is common, there are a variety of ways you can manage it. Talking to your dentist about your fear and anxiety is key. Once you’ve figured out where they are coming from, you two can work out a plan. For example, if the feeling of helplessness is one of your stressors, have your dentist explain what’s happening at every stage during the procedure. You can also establish a hand signal to let your dentist know if you want them to stop right away. Other ideas include practicing deep breathing techniques or meditation. Or ask your dentist ahead of time if you can watch a movie or listen to an audiobook or music during your procedure.
However, if your dentist doesn’t take your concerns seriously, it’s time to find a new one.
Dental care doesn’t have to be scary. Not when patients are provided the compassion and respect they deserve.
We’re here to help you
At Family Dentistry of Colorado Springs, your comfort and care are our top priorities. Dr. Kazemi and his team will do everything possible to make your visit an enjoyable one. We’ll explain every procedure in advance, and we will not proceed until you feel comfortable and ready to go. If at any point you need a break, please say so and we will be happy to give you the time you need.
Ready to schedule your next appointment? Contact our office today.