Finding It Hard To Keep Your Dental Appointment?


Dental Anxiety — How Do I Cope?

There it is, staring back at you from your daily calendar, your dental appointment. You knew it was coming up and have been dreading it for a week now. After canceling it twice, you realize you need to follow through on this appointment, but know you won’t sleep tonight, or tomorrow night for that matter. How can you get past the anxiety and fear of sitting in the dentist’s chair?

You are not alone …

Nearly 35 million Americans delay or ignore their bi-annual trip to the dentist*.  And from these 35 million, 37% admit fear is the reason they have not scheduled an appointment**.

Why am I so afraid? 

The anxiety of seeing a dentist can range from unease of having someone else examine your teeth and mouth to an extreme fear of mouth pain or suffocation.  These fears range from mild anxiety to phobic distress, which are terrifying and can strike panic at the mere mention of a dentist.  Having this fear and anxiety can have negative results other than poor dental hygiene, resulting in possible tooth loss and gum disease.  Poor oral heath has also been linked to inferior general heath, a shorter life expectancy, heart disease, and lung infections.  People who have tense shoulder pain or back aches due to anxiety are also known to have lower thresholds of pain, experiencing pain at increased levels.  Stress related problems may arise in other parts of the body too, developing headaches and stiffness in the neck and back.  These aren’t disorders which disappear, and can get worse over time.  Fear of going to the dentist can be an indicator of  more obscure problems. 

There is hope … 

Dental Anxiety can range from losing sleep the night before to physically being ill before seeing the dentist.  There are many degrees of anxiety and all are treatable.  Anxiety occurs more often in adults commonly due to early experiences resulting in pain or distress.  Feelings of helplessness or loss of control can also be contributors, as can a lack of knowledge about procedures or misinterpretations of a dentists’ skill and ability. 

Overcoming the fear begins with conversation. 

If you have trouble sleeping the night before your appointment, become increasingly anxious, nauseous, feel panic, or have trouble breathing while instruments are in your mouth, call your dentist before your appointment.  Write down all your feelings, concerns, and any anxiety you may be experiencing so you can discuss the list with your Dentist or Dental Assistant.  They will be able to offer solutions to your distress and guide you to a more pleasant experience the next time you have a dental visit.  Lastly, please be aware some anxiety may need to have additional help to overcome. 

A healthy smile begins with good dental care. 

Be assured, your dentist only wants the best for you.  He or she wants you to feel at ease and confident you are in caring and skillful hands when you receive attention from the hygienist or dentist.  They are available listen and attend to your every concern.





* © 2017 Colgate-Palmolive Company. 11.08.2017 

** British Dental Health Foundation 2017