Dental anxiety, which is sometimes called dental phobia, is a condition that leads patients to fear dental procedures. It can be debilitating, preventing a person from seeking the care they need. While anxiety is a normal emotion, it can turn into a disorder if it interferes with a patient’s daily life. Individuals may experience symptoms like:
- Breathing trouble
- Rapid heartbeat
- Panic attacks
- Avoiding dental care
- Trouble sleeping
- Excessive worry
- Feeling a loss of control
Patients should not let anxiety keep them from getting the care they need. View before and after images on the website or read on to learn more about dental anxiety and how to manage it.
Dental Anxiety and Its Effects
Dental anxiety significantly affects a person’s oral health and well-being. If left untreated, it can lead patients to put off crucial treatments, worsening problems with time. Dental anxiety may cause:
- A decline in oral health. Those with anxiety may avoid cleanings, check-ups, and essential procedures. Therefore, they’re at greater risk of cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues.
- Worsening of existing problems. When dental health matters are left unaddressed, they often become more complicated and require more intensive treatment. For instance, a cavity that may have been fixed with a filling may require extraction or a root canal if not treated promptly.
- Extreme distress. Dental anxiety can affect a patient’s quality of life. Those with the condition may have feelings of embarrassment, helplessness, and shame, which affect their confidence and self-esteem.
- Physical symptoms. Dental anxiety may manifest itself physically. Patients can experience rapid heart rate, tremors, excessive sweating, and other signs that add to the overall discomfort and stress of the procedure.
Dental anxiety doesn’t have to keep you from getting the care you need. In the sections below, we will list a few ways to manage the condition when receiving implant treatment.
Controlling Dental Anxiety Before Implants
There are a few healthy ways to manage dental anxiety, and it’s best to consult your provider before trying any of these approaches. To calm your nerves and ease your fears, try:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Anti-anxiety medication
- Desensitization therapy
- Muscle relaxation
- Distraction techniques
- Positive affirmations
- Effective communication with your provider
Patients who are anxious about upcoming implant procedures should speak to their dentists, who can recommend techniques to help them feel calm on appointment day.
Dental sedation is an effective way for patients to manage anxiety. There are several options available, including:
- IV sedation. It’s administered intravenously and will create feelings of sleepiness and relaxation. Patients can respond to verbal cues, but they’ll need someone to drive them home afterward.
- Conscious sedation. This method involves taking oral sedatives before a procedure, and patients will be drowsy but able to respond to requests.
- Nitrous oxide. Inhaled through a face mask, nitrous oxide gas provides feelings of relaxation and euphoria. It’s considered one of the mildest forms of sedation, and patients can drive themselves home afterward.
Patients should discuss these options with their dentist, as they can recommend sedation methods based on anxiety level and procedure complexity. Our dentists can explain each method’s benefits and risks while answering your questions. Call or click to schedule a consultation.
Communication is Key
When patients come to us with their concerns and fears, we can help them create treatment plans that take their anxiety into consideration. Dental implant patients should:
- Be honest about their fears. Honesty will help dentists understand the patient’s perspective and customize treatment plans accordingly.
- Ask plenty of questions. Patients should be able to ask questions about implant treatment, which will reduce anxiety by showing them what to expect.
- Discuss sedation options. Depending on their condition’s severity, patients may be able to use one of the sedation methods mentioned above.
- Take breaks. If a patient feels anxious or overwhelmed, they should take breaks during implant treatment.
Avoiding implant treatment because of anxiety may lead to more significant issues in the future. When oral health problems are untreated, they often lead to infection, pain, and tooth loss.
Don’t let dental anxiety keep you from getting the treatment you need. Call our office to schedule an appointment with an experienced dentist who can calm patients’ fears and place implants safely and accurately.
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