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Dental Anxiety-How to Manage It

What is Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety is a fear, anxiety or stress in a dental setting. Being scared to visit the dentist can delay or avoid dental treatment and may be triggered by needles, drills, or even just the dental office setting. 

Experiencing dental anxiety may look like:

  • sweating
  • racing heartbeat or palpitations
  • low blood pressure and possible fainting 
  • crying, panic, visible distress 
  • withdrawal, humour or aggression to mask anxiety
  • routinely missing dental appointments
  • finding it difficult to undergo dental treatment, whether simple or complex.

 Avoiding Dental Care Affects your Health

Avoiding the dentist can result in:

  •  Worsening dental disease where you no longer can avoid the pain or the extensive damage. Poor oral health can link to major health conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, premature babies, and low birth weight.
  •  Emergency care or more complex treatment. For example, a filling may escalate to a root canal because the tooth has experienced more decay over the time it has taken to acquire treatment.
  • Creating a cycle of dental anxiety.
  • Missing out on learning about how to better care for your teeth. Improved oral care assists in breaking the cycle of anxiety.

How to Manage Dental Anxiety

Good news! There are many ways to manage dental anxiety, which begins with an open discussion with the Kesteven Dental team. Identifying individual triggers can help us work with you to tailor your treatment plan. 

Coping techniques that assist individuals include:

  • deep breathing
  • meditation
  • listening to music, use of screens, or a similar distraction
  • guided imagery
  • progressive muscle relaxation

How to Break the Dental Anxiety Cycle

Breaking the vicious cycle of anxiety can begin by:

  • Regular dental check-ups, cleanings and screening X-rays preventing dental disease and helping find dental problems early, so simpler treatments are needed. 
  • Improve Lifestyle Habits. Most dental disease is preventable. As lifestyle factors leading to dental disease are similar to those leading to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and stroke, taking care of both your general and oral health is key to minimizing major dental treatment. Avoid tobacco, eat a healthy diet, cut out sugary foods and drinks, eat more proteins and fewer carbs.
  • Improving your oral health routine at home will make you feel more confident going to the dentist. A great way to start is by brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing daily, and replacing your toothbrush every three months.  

Confidence in your home dental care sets the stage for a better overall dental experience.

Options for Patient Comfort

At Kesteven Dental Care, we have these dental anxiety treatment options available to assist patient comfort. These include;

  • In-operatory Cable TV
  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • Warm blankets
  • Relaxing music; feel free to bring your preferred music choices
  • Conscious Sedation

Sedation dentistry can help lower anxiety, relax the body, and reduce pain while receiving dental care. If you have a difficult time sitting still for care or afraid of dental procedures, minimal sedation can help relax you. For more complex dental procedures, sedation dentistry offers both relaxation and pain relief effects, allowing you to sleep during the procedure.

Discuss your dental anxiety concerns with us at Kesteven Dental Care to develop a treatment plan that will allay your fears and allow you to receive the dental care and treatment customized to your needs. 

By Lori Kesteven