Is it common to have dental fear and anxiety?

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Statistics show that about 15 percent of Americans suffer from dental fear. Dental anxiety, or dental fear, is more than just the sweaty palms you may get before seeing a dentist — it’s a paralyzing fear of dentists or dental treatment.

If this sounds like you, keep in mind that you don’t have to avoid getting the dental care you need. At Lincoln Family Dentistry, we have the tools, techniques, and caring manner to help you face these dental fears and keep your mouth healthy.

It’s easy to blame mom and dad for shortcomings, but what’s really behind dental fear? While many of our views of dental work can be shaped by our families, a recent study at North Carolina University has shown that an individual’s overall anxiety level is actually a better indicator of how a person tends to react at dental visits. With that being said, there are a few other factors that can contribute to dental fear:

  • Prior uncomfortable or negative experiences
  • Feeling helpless or out of control in a dental office situation
  • Feeling embarrassed about neglecting your teeth
  • Fears of being ridiculed about neglecting your teeth

Read a message for patients scared of dentists from Dr. Kelly O’Hara

How Dental Fear and Anxiety Affect Your Overall Health

In the 1997 film “As Good As It Gets,” we see how anxiety disorders can affect an individual’s interpersonal relationships. Dental fear can actually have a similar effect: Skipping regular dental visits leaves your teeth vulnerable to tooth decay, allowing cavities and bad breath to develop. Self-confidence is compromised as a result, and your social interactions follow suit, allowing your fears to dictate your social life.

Even more, the physical consequences of fears of the dentist can be quite serious. Without regular dental visits, your teeth and gums can become chronically infected, which can have an impact on your ability to chew and digest properly and affect your typical speech patterns. It’s also possible for chronic gum infection to lead to heart disease over time.

When your anxiety begins to impact your physical well-being, it’s time to re-evaluate and find a solution.

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Overcoming fears of the dentist: Live a Better Life

Here are a few methods that we have found to be successful for patients with dental anxiety:

  • Sedation dentistry,
  • Yoga techniques for breathing and relaxation
  • Listening to your iPod® during a visit
  • Therapy/hypnotherapy sessions

Fearing the dental experience is not insurmountable. Trying out some of these methods can help alleviate dental anxiety, and keeping in regular contact with your dentist can ultimately keep your smile healthy and happy. Schedule an appointment today to get excellent dental care from Lincoln Family Dentistry’s caring dentists, who often cater to anxious patients.

Check out the “What is Sedation Dentistry?” video.

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