Shalman Dentistry

What to Do If You Have Dental Anxiety?

Dental Anxiety

Do you find that you feel anxious or nervous before seeing the dentist? Is the mere thought of making the appointment too much to bear? Are you scared of needles, or perhaps you find the sound of the dental drill or even the smell of a dental office is enough to promote feelings of fear and anxiety?

Avoiding routine dental care can be very stressful, creating consequences that can impact every aspect of life. Some people may feel there is something wrong with them because they can’t cope with seeing a dentist when others around them seem to carry out this task quite easily.

Anxiety about the appearance of their teeth can affect their sense of well-being and self-confidence. Some people feel so badly that they will avoid social situations or will avoid smiling and talking freely. Instead, they may always cover their mouth with their hand to hide their teeth.

You Are Not Alone

It may provide some comfort to know you are not alone, and some studies have found that up to three-quarters of people admit to feeling at least a little anxious when visiting the dentist.

However, between 10 and 15% of people have severe dental anxiety that even prevents them from seeking dental treatment. Others go out of their way to avoid habits that may require a visit to the dentist, for example, sticking to softer foods and avoiding foods that could chip or crack a tooth.

These people can go years without seeing the dentist but consequently suffer from tooth infections and toothache and will worry about their appearance.

If you are anxious about seeing a dentist and actively avoid dental care, it’s in your interest to overcome these feelings. The good news is that dentists realize many people feel anxious and nervous about seeing them, and can help ensure each visit is as calm and pleasant as possible.

With help, it’s possible for even the most anxious person to overcome their fears so they can receive regular treatment. Dr. Alex Shalman has lots of different ways to help anxious and fearful patients achieve this.

Dental Anxiety

No One Is Born with Dental Fears

If you are afraid of seeing the dentist, you will have learned this behavior from somewhere. Most often, it may come from previous bad experiences or because of fears pass on from parents or siblings.

When you feel fearful about something, it often creates a physical response such as:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Palms may become sweaty
  • Generally feel tense

Having these feelings when you see the dentist can reinforce dental fears, no matter if the appointment is ultimately pain-free and relatively pleasant. It is what’s called an automatic fear response that can be hard to overcome using reason or logic.

How to Overcome These Feelings?

Although feelings of anxiety and fear are very real, they can be overcome using a very basic principle. The more often you see the dentist and have a positive experience, the more easily you can overcome your feelings of fear and anxiety.

However, deep-seated fears that have been going on for years can take longer as you will need a greater number of good experiences to conquer these feelings. If you feel fearful, follow these steps to overcome those fears, and ensure you have a better experience with dental care.

Talk to Dr. Shalman

It is important to talk to Dr. Shalman about your feelings. When you make the appointment at Shalman Dentistry, let our dental team know how you feel to make sure Dr. Shalman is prepared to listen to you. Dr. Shalman is sympathetic towards patients with dental anxieties, and he will listen carefully and will not judge. When you talk to him, he can begin to understand your fear and can commit to working toward helping you overcome it. Dr. Shalman is an exceptionally good listener, he can help you.

Decide Which Situations You Can Deal with More Easily in the Dental Office

There are most likely some things you are more afraid of than others, and your dentist must understand this so they can make sure you feel in control when seeing them. This way, your dentist can make sure that you only do things you feel safe doing fairly easily, building up your confidence so you can certainly do them again if needed. It may take quite some time to get over these fears and to move onto the next stage, so you do need to find a dentist that is prepared to work with you and to ensure every visit is a positive experience.

Your dentist should be able to prepare a treatment plan where they work with you at a pace you feel comfortable with rather than concentrating on fixing any dental problems. When you know you can take your time and overcome your dental fear comfortably, it can make those initial visits much easier. Of course, this can mean a procedure will take longer to complete, and that your appointments are spread out over a longer period.

Using Dental Sedation

If the idea of overcoming your dental fears gradually doesn’t appeal, another option is to consider dental sedation.

Sedation dentistry has helped many patients overcome their feelings of dental fear and anxiety in a way that is relatively quick and approachable. There are different levels of sedation, depending on your level of dental fear.

Mild dental fears can frequently be conquered with the use of:

  • Nitrous oxide or laughing gas. The sedative is inhaled, taking effect within just a few seconds and promoting a sense of deep relaxation and calm.
  • Oral sedatives in the form of a pill taken shortly before treatment can provide you with a deeper level of sedation.
  • IV sedation. sedation dentistry can be given intravenously throughout the treatment, a procedure that is sometimes called twilight or sleep dentistry because the patient feels so deeply relaxed they may fall asleep.

Sometimes a dentist will use a combination of different sedation techniques to provide the most comfortable experience for a patient. One of the great things about sedation dentistry is that frequently a dentist can complete a lot of treatment in a single appointment. Afterward, you can get to work on conquering your dental fears so you can receive ongoing preventative dental care more comfortably.

Updated on Mar 4, 2023 by Dr. Alex Shalman (Dentist) of Shalman Dentistry

Shalman Dentistry
44 W 10th St #1A
New York, NY 10011
(10th St, between 5th & 6th Avenue)
(212) 658-1093
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DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLYThis website's purpose is to provide general dentistry information. None of the details given is intended to be taken as authoritative dental advice. It's important to speak with a dentist in NYC about your problems, as it may be a symptom of a serious underline condition. For an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan, a detailed oral examination should always be performed. Make an appointment with your nearest healthcare provider or call our Lower Manhattan practice to set up a consultation. Back to top
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