Do you avoid scheduling routine dental cleanings? Does the thought of sitting in a dentist’s chair make you sweat? Have you neglected your oral health because you can’t bring yourself to step into the dentist office?

You might be suffering from dental anxiety — and you’re not alone. Up to 80% of Americans feel some level of anxiety in dental settings. It can affect anyone at any age, and it might be keeping you from getting the oral health care you need.

Paul Fuentes, DDS, DABP, Andrew Peterson, DMD, MS, and our team at Arcadia Perio can help. We specialize in dental sedation to help ease your nerves, and in this blog, we’re exploring where dental anxiety comes from and what you can do about it.

Why dental anxiety develops

For some, dental anxiety starts in childhood. For others, dental anxiety develops later in life. The causes of dental anxiety are complex, but usually involve such factors as:

Experiencing trauma in the past

Previous trauma is one of the most common reasons that people have dental anxiety. Experiencing trauma can make you worried that something bad will happen again, and it can cause dental anxiety in children and adults.

The trauma may be emotional, such as fear following a particularly negative dental experience or another type of health care experience. The trauma may also be physical, such as a previous head or neck injury. No matter the cause, you may avoid going to the dentist as a means to protect yourself.

Learning from other people and the media

Maybe a family member or friend had a negative dental experience, or maybe you came across a scary story on TV or online. Now, you find yourself worrying about your next dentist appointment and wondering if those bad things will happen to you.

Even if you haven’t had a traumatic dental experience yourself, it’s possible to develop dental anxiety from the influence of those around you. Learning about someone else’s traumatic experience can make you fearful about your own experiences too.

Having certain mental health conditions

Dental anxiety is a type of anxiety, and some people may be more likely to develop it than others. Other mental health conditions could make you more likely to have dental anxiety and health anxiety, including:

  • General anxiety disorder
  • Depression
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Other phobias, like agoraphobia or claustrophobia 

Like other types of anxiety, dental anxiety is complex. Your anxiety may develop from several factors, but no matter the cause, it’s important to recognize that dental anxiety is treatable.

What to do about dental anxiety

You shouldn’t avoid dental care because of dental anxiety. Instead, focus on finding a compassionate dental team that’s willing to work with you to ease your fears. 

At Arcadia Perio, we strive to help all our patients feel safe and comfortable. If you have mild to moderate dental anxiety, we offer a range of sedation options to help you relax.

Nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral sedation, and intravenous (IV) sedation provide different levels of anesthesia. We choose the best method for you based on your health, anxiety, and the dental treatments you need.

If you have severe dental anxiety or dental phobia, we may recommend seeing a psychologist for cognitive behavioral therapy and other mental health coaching to help you overcome your fears.

Dental anxiety is common, but you don’t have to let it keep you from getting the dental care you need. Find out more about your dental anxiety treatment options at Arcadia Perio in Arcadia, California. Call us at 626-662-1084 or book an appointment online now.

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