woman with anxiety

Beating dental anxiety

Approximately 1.3 million Australians are said to be affected by dental anxieties, marking out this phenomenon to be a worrying concern. Because of these fears and anxieties, many people avoid seeking professional dental care, placing their oral health and function at risk. The problem becomes more of a concern when considering that oral health does not exist in a vacuum and that the wider health of the body may also be adversely affected. Consider for a moment the ramifications of finding it difficult to eat on the body – the body will decline due to nutritional deficiencies. Then there are dental conditions like tooth decay or missing teeth that affect mental wellbeing. The loss of confidence can have a devastating impact on the ability to network socially and professionally.

Most dental problems do not erupt overnight; they are mainly a result of dental neglect that occurs over time. Dental caries, for example, occur over time as bad bacteria begin to pile up in the mouth and form hard deposits on teeth, and if not removed, then begin to attack enamel by forming holes on tooth surfaces. This means that they are easily preventable but only if certain checks and balances are put in place.

It is mainly because poor dental health conditions are entirely preventable that dental authorities have long advocated for regular dental Coorparo visits to the dentist. But fears of the dental chair can spark a troubling pattern of shame and worsening dental conditions the longer a person avoids proper professional treatment. Thinking that a few cavities here and there are no big deal can swiftly develop into tooth loss, gum disease and thereafter a whole mouth problem. Dental avoidance can quite easily lead to compounding complex problems that can then add to a person’s shame and embarrassment.

child with a dentist

Strategies to cope with dental anxieties

Help for managing dental anxieties begins with the acknowledgement that a problem exists. From this point, there are a plethora of strategies and tips to employ to take better care of one’s oral health.

Dental anxieties are not restricted to any particular age group or gender but most fears of the dentist begin in childhood through unfortunate experiences and apathetic dental practitioners. One of the main factors to addressing dental fears in both adult and young children is a sympathetic dentist.

The prevalence of dental anxiety in society and the fact that many Australians endure adverse dental conditions, prevented by their anxieties from seeking professional care, have urged dental practitioners to become more conscious of the problem. It is far more common now to find dental clinics accommodating dental phobia of patients by making available certain techniques and facilities that put patients’ fears at ease. Some of these techniques involve:

  • Creating a more welcoming and relaxing dental environment.
  • Deep breathing techniques to aid relaxation.
  • Behavioural therapy.
  • Guided imagery.

For patients who experience a higher intensity of phobia, they can investigate different types of sedation dentistry available at their local dental practice.

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

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