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What Causes Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety is a common issue that affects many people. It refers to the fear, nervousness, or discomfort people experience when they think about or visit the dentist. This anxiety can lead to avoiding dental appointments, ultimately leading to dental problems. If you know your dental anxiety triggers, your Claremont Dental Institute dentist can help you minimize your fear. Otherwise, they can help provide treatment options to make dental appointments more comfortable. 

woman holding her hands over her face in fear while in the dental chair, two dental professionals surround her with dental instruments dental anxiety dentists in Claremont California

Potential Causes

Many factors can contribute to dental anxiety.

Fear of Pain: One of the most common reasons people have dental anxiety is the fear of pain. People may have had a previous bad experience with a dentist or heard stories from others about painful dental procedures. This can make a dental appointment nerve-wracking and uncomfortable.

Fear of the Unknown: For many people, dental anxiety is rooted in fear of the unknown. They may fear what will happen during a dental procedure, how long it will take, or how much it will cost. Understandably, this may make your mind race, making your experience more challenging.

Feeling Helpless: When people lie in the dental chair, they may feel helpless and out of control. This can be a frightening experience for some people.

Past Trauma: Some people may have had a traumatic experience, such as a car accident or assault, making them anxious about being in a dental office. Regardless, being in a dental chair can be an overwhelming experience. 

Sensory Overload: A dental office’s smells, sounds, and sights can be overwhelming for some people. The bright lights, the sound of dental tools, and the sterile environment can all contribute to dental anxiety.

Potential Treatment Options

Knowing you’re not alone is essential if you suffer from dental anxiety. Many treatment options can help you manage stress and feel more comfortable at the dentist’s office.

Sedation Dentistry: Sedation dentistry is a technique that involves using medication to help people relax during dental procedures. Several types of sedation include nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas), oral sedation, and intravenous (IV) sedation.

Distraction Techniques: Many dental offices offer distraction techniques like watching TV or listening to music to help patients feel more relaxed during procedures. You can even bring a friend or loved one to help comfort and distract you during your appointment.

Communication: Talking to your dentist about your fears and concerns can be helpful. Your dentist can explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have. They may also be able to offer suggestions for managing your anxiety.

Gradual Exposure: If you have severe dental anxiety, gradual exposure to dental procedures may be helpful. This involves slowly increasing your exposure to dental procedures, starting with simple techniques and working on more complex ones.