What's Behind My Dental Anxiety?

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Being anxious about a visit to the dentist is a common problem, affecting about 36% of the population. One-third of this group has severe dental fear. Dental anxiety can lead to dental avoidance, a condition that contributes to declines in oral health. A patient may be afraid of dentists, dental procedures, or both. 

When you’re nervous about dentist visits, you’re more likely to delay booking appointments or cancel those already made. Maintaining good oral health requires a balance between home care and regular checkups. You can’t compensate for missed appointments by brushing and flossing more. 

The best way to maintain the health of your teeth and gums is with a dental practice that practices sedation dentistry. Dr. Richard Blackburn and the team at Volterra Dental in Los Alamitos, California, understand the reasons behind dental anxiety and they work hard to assure that every patient is comfortable in their care. 

What’s behind my dental anxiety?

Awareness is often an important part of managing the things that cause nervousness and dental anxiety is no different. Anyone of any age can be affected. It’s also a condition that can come and go. 

Traumatic experiences are perhaps the most common external factor that contributes to dental anxiety, and according to some studies, it isn’t always trauma related to previous dental visits. Negative experiences in another health care context could be the trigger, or it may be some traumatic experience that’s completely unrelated to dental or health care. 

Sensory factors can set other patients off. The sound of a traditional dental drill or the transmitted vibration may cause tension and anxiety, and associations with other sights, sounds, and smells can trigger traumatic responses. 

Causes of anxiety can also be internal. Some patients feel strongly that their mouth is a personal space and any dental treatment feels like a violation. Others feel loss of control during a dental appointment, or they might have trouble building feelings of trust with their dental care providers. 

Other fears like claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) or agoraphobia (fear of being unable to escape a situation) can be triggered by a dental appointment. You may fear the onset of pain despite the capabilities of contemporary anesthetics, or you may worry they will wear off too soon, even when experience tells you that the effects last for hours. 

Dealing with dental anxiety

Coping with dental anxiety starts with a discussion of your fears with Dr. Blackburn. He knows that your concerns may not always make sense, but that they are still very real. Since they stand in the way of your dental care, it’s important for everyone to find solutions. 

Volterra Dental offers three types of sedation to help you conquer your anxiety. Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, creates a happy feeling of euphoria when you start to inhale it. The colorless, odorless gas relaxes you for the duration of your treatment and wears off quickly. 

Oral sedation makes you feel drowsy and you could fall asleep during your procedure, but you’ll also wake easily. It takes longer to wear off than nitrous oxide, so you will need a ride home from your appointment. 

Intravenous (IV) sedation also takes a few hours to wear off. The team at Volterra Dental has the training and certifications needed to administer IV sedation. You may have few recollections of your procedure after using this sedation method. 

The right sedative for you depends on several factors, so the choice is best made in consultation with Dr. Blackburn. Call or click to schedule an appointment. Your oral health is too important to your overall well-being, so plan a session to discuss dental anxiety today.