Dental anxiety is so common that it can affect individuals of any age. Most of the time, this comes from a bad dental experience where a person cannot overcome their fear. If a child with dental anxiety or phobia is well-cared for during dental visits, they usually outgrow them. Yet, adults who are anxious about dental care tend to manifest their phobia throughout their lifetimes.
Although most dental diseases are preventable, avoiding your dentist may have a big impact on your oral health. When you frequently avoid your dentist, it can worsen your dental condition, especially when you need emergency care or a more complex procedure.
What you can first do is identify the signs and symptoms of your dental anxiety. Next, you must determine why you acquired this kind of fear. Was it a bad experience from a dental appointment, or are there underlying reasons and causes of your dental anxiety? Ultimately, consult a counselor. Read the full article to know how counseling can help patients like you overcome dental anxiety or phobia.
What Is Dental Anxiety Or Phobia
Dental anxiety refers to the fear, anxiety, or stress individuals experience in a dental setting. Being afraid of an appointment with a dentist may result in avoiding or delaying dental treatment. The sight of needles, the sound of drills, or just the clinic environment can trigger a person with dental anxiety.
Severe dental anxiety may result in irrational fear towards a dentist. Individuals with severe dental anxiety might altogether avoid visiting a dental clinic. This is a sign of dental phobia.
In addition to this, other mental health disorders increase the risk of experiencing dental anxiety. Some of these conditions include:
- Bipolar disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Moreover, individuals who have a previous history of head and neck trauma also have a higher risk of having dental anxiety.
Common Signs And Symptoms Of Dental Anxiety Or Phobia
There are multiple signs and symptoms of dental anxiety, which can vary from person to person. Individuals with this condition may exhibit a unique way of reacting to stress associated with dental visits. Yet, there are also common and standard observable indications of dental anxiety. These signs and symptoms may include:
- Excessive sweating
- Panic attacks
- Palpitations or racing heartbeat
- Possible fainting caused by low blood pressure
- Visible signs of distress such as crying, being angry, nervousness
- Using withdrawal tactics to mask anxiety such as aggression and humor
Aside from this, people who have dental anxiety also experience trouble sleeping before their appointment. They also have constant worry and racing thoughts whenever the idea of dental visitations comes up. These individuals can also easily be overwhelmed by just being in a dental office.
Causes Of Dental Anxiety Or Phobia
With this, it is important to discuss the common causes of dental anxiety and phobia. As mentioned earlier, this can be due to a traumatic dental or other healthcare experience. For instance, they may have experienced failure treatment or dental procedure. Or they may have observed these events from another clinical patient, perhaps, from another family member.
Dental anxiety may be caused by other traumatic experiences related to one’s mouth. These individuals may also have been victims of abuse. Additionally, they may associate dental visits with their fear of losing control. These individuals view their mount as a personal or private area. As such, they may have trust issues with anyone who checks out their mouth.
Other anxiety-related conditions can cause fear of dental procedures, which include:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
How Counseling Can Help You Cope
The primary goal of counseling in dealing with your dental anxiety is to minimize your symptoms. Eventually, you will learn tips and strategies for mitigating these on your own. With this, your counselor may conduct cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) as your initial counseling program.
In CBT, you will sit down and talk to your counselor about your dental anxiety about your thoughts and feelings. Your counselor will help you understand the cause of your anxiety or phobia. They will exhaust all roots and other triggers that might cause your dental anxiety.
CBT allows you to engage in healthier thought patterns. So you can become aware of the negative and mostly unrealistic ideas that can influence your emotions. Your counselor can help you change your perspective about dental visitations and other dental-related thoughts. They will teach you how you can redirect your thoughts whenever they come up. Then, they will help you practice this technique so you can cope up healthily.
Aside from CBT, counseling can also help you learn other strategies to assist in your dental anxiety episodes. They can teach you deep breathing and meditation techniques. They can also teach you how to utilize distractions so you can focus better on positive thoughts. They may suggest guided imagery or hypnosis.
As an adult, your dental anxiety may have a lesser chance of getting rid of it permanently. It is important to consult any mental health professional for dealing with these cases. Counseling can improve the quality of your dental and oral health. You can have a more positive outlook on your dental visits and your life, in general.