How Family Dentists Can Help Ease Dental Anxiety

How Family Dentists Can Help Ease Dental Anxiety from Northside Dental Care, PC in Peabody, MADental anxiety is common among children and adults. Thankfully, a family dentist has tools and techniques to help patients manage their anxiety while completing preventative and restorative dental work. This article will explore dental anxiety, how to manage it, and how to overcome it.

What is dental anxiety?

Dental anxiety is when a patient feels fearful, stressed, or anxious about entering a dental setting. For example, they may feel anxious about a particular tool, professional teeth cleanings, or more extensive dental procedures like root canals. Dental anxiety can lead to a dental phobia, a severe fear of the dentist often characterized by missed appointments and going years without a checkup.

Symptoms of dental anxiety

Everyone experiences dental anxiety differently. Some people may cry before seeing the dentist; others may mask their fear with humor. Most often, dental anxiety will manifest as one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Indigestion
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tachycardia (racing heart)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Shaking or trembling

Causes of dental anxiety

A negative or even traumatic experience at the dentist or in another healthcare setting could cause a patient to feel anxiety about dental work. It is also common for patients with anxiety and panic disorders to have their nervousness transferred over to a dental setting. Other causes of dental anxiety include:

  • History of abuse
  • Trust issues
  • Fearing any loss of control
  • Fearing germs or contamination
  • Viewing dental work as an invasion of personal space

Anyone can be affected by dental anxiety. There is no age limit. Our family dentistry practice strives to make patients of all ages feel as comfortable as possible.

Managing anxiety at the dentist

While family dentists cannot treat dental anxiety, they can help patients with dental anxiety make it through the appointment. To do so, patients or someone on behalf of the patient can inform our office of evidence of dental anxiety, and we can arrange accommodations. The sooner the patient informs the dentist, the better.

Many patients find listening to music or podcasts helpful while getting their dental work done. Having a hand signal that the patient can use if they need a break can also help, especially if the patient’s dental anxiety stems from claustrophobia or fearing a loss of agency. Our dentist may be able to use dental hand instruments in lieu of a specific tool that is causing excess stress, like the ultrasonic scraper. Other times, the dentist may speed up the process while ensuring the patient's safety so that the appointment is as short as possible.

How to stop dental anxiety

Dental anxiety has no cure, but its symptoms can be managed and minimized. If dental anxiety starts to get in the way of the patient’s life, we recommend they consult a mental health professional. In the meantime, a family dentist can help them manage dental anxiety with the abovementioned techniques.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Family Dentist in Peabody, MA

Book an appointment

It is never too late to get dental treatment, even if it has been years since the last checkup. Our family dentist will work with the patient to minimize dental anxiety symptoms. When you are ready, give our team a call. We are happy to answer any questions and address any concerns.

Request an appointment or call Northside Dental Care, PC at 978-206-7077 for an appointment in our Peabody office.

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