Dental anxiety is a very common problem. Most people experience a degree of anxiety before going to the dentist, but for some the mere thought of going to the dentist causes them to become extremely nervous and this may cause them to avoid going to the dentist and put their oral health at risk.
Why is dental anxiety so common?
There are many reasons why people may feel anxious about going to the dentist. For many, the fear of pain is the major cause of anxiety, as they associate going to the dentist with experiencing pain and discomfort. Some people put off going to the dentist because they are worried about what the dentist will tell them, especially if they haven’t been to their dentist for a long time. They may expect to be told that their teeth are not in good condition and therefore need further treatment.
For some people, the fear of going to the dentist dates back to their childhood or a particular experience in the past. Some people have bad memories of going to the dentist and some feel nervous because they suffered pain during a procedure or they disliked the feel of the instruments in their mouth or the sound of the drill.
What can be done to conquer dental anxiety?
If you suffer from mild anxiety, your dentist may be able to clam you down and help you to feel relaxed. Dental practices are now much more welcoming than they used to be and many are kitted out with gadgets and gizmos to keep you entertained and take your mind off the procedure.
If you have more severe anxiety, you may really struggle with the thought of going to the dentist, let alone the actual appointment. There are various methods which can be used to help to relax you and make you feel more comfortable with the idea of having dental treatment.
Sedation is a popular treatment for patients who feel anxious during dental treatment; sedation effectively puts patients to sleep during the procedure so that they cannot feel anything. Many patients are comforted by the fact that they will not experience any pain or discomfort during the procedure.
Other possible alternatives to general anaesthetic include cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnosis.
Hypnosis versus cognitive behavioural therapy
Research carried out by teams at St. Augusta Hospital Dental Clinic and Wuppertal University in Germany found that cognitive behavioural therapy is a very effective treatment for dental anxiety. Cognitive behavioural therapy, often known as CBT, is a psychological therapy which helps to retrain the brain and find effective ways of dealing with sources of stress and anxiety triggers.
The researchers found that CBT was much more effective than hypnosis.
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