“Dental anxiety” is a term that can apply to anxiety over trips to the dentist, an orthodontist, or any other type of oral health care professional. Many people, including a large percentage of adults, have anxiety about appointments. Some researchers think a majority of the population might have at least mild dental anxiety! We understand this and we want our patients to feel relaxed and safe at every visit. Here’s some information about dental anxiety, why people may experience it, and ways that we can work with you to help you overcome your anxiety.
What Is It?
Anxiety about a trip to the orthodontist can include a physical or emotional response (or both) to a perceived threat. People can experience this anxiety for a lot of different reasons, from fear of injections or painful procedures to the cost of treatment. It’s important to distinguish dental anxiety from a full-blown dental phobia. Dental anxiety is a mild fear, whereas a phobia is an irrational fear that can cause a person to panic. We’re focusing on the anxiety aspect in this post.
How Common is Dental Anxiety?
If you experience some anxiety about having your Melbourne orthodontist working on your braces or your teeth, you should know that you’re not alone. According to research published in the Journal of Dental Hygiene, well over half the adult population experiences some form of dental anxiety. It could be as high as 80 percent of the population!
For most people, their dental anxiety is mild and they simply push through it. For about 20 percent of the population, anxiety causes them to not visit their dentist or orthodontist as often as they should. And for somewhere between 9 and 15 percent of the population, their anxiety causes them to skip out on oral care altogether unless they are driven to it by extreme pain.
Here are some of the most common factors that can cause people to experience dental anxiety:
Pain: Fear of pain over a visit to the orthodontist is very common. However, all forms of dental care have been radically transformed from how things used to be. Most treatments are now so advanced that they are considered “pain free.”
Injections: There aren’t a lot of scenarios where you might need an injection from the orthodontist for treatment, but fear of injections is one that many people have.
Side Effects: Some people worry about side effects from dental anesthesia. While these side effects are not common, they can include nausea or dizziness.
Loss of Control: This is one of the most common causes of dental anxiety. Patients are seated in a chair and can’t see what’s going on as their mouth is wide open.
Embarrassment: Many people simply don’t like the loss of personal space when their orthodontist is working in their mouth, whether they’re adjusting the patient’s braces or doing something else. Some people feel self-conscious about the appearance of their teeth, or worry about bad breath.
How to Overcome Dental Anxiety
The first step to overcoming your anxiety is to simply talk to your orthodontist about it. If you explain your concerns to Dr. Reddick or our staff, we can work with you to figure out ways to make you feel more comfortable. We take your concerns seriously; we’re willing to take our time to ensure that you get the best treatment possible.
Ask lots of questions during every stage of a procedure if you need to. Dr. Reddick can talk you through everything and explain every step. Knowing what’s about to happen can be a great way to reduce your anxiety.
Finally, come up with a simple signal to use during a procedure, such as raising your hand. If you become too uncomfortable and need to take a break, raise your hand to signal to the doctor to stop.
Don’t Let Anxiety Delay Your Smile Goals
Orthodontic care is important for your overall health, and that’s our main focus at Melbourne Orthodontics. If you experience anxiety due to trips to the orthodontist, let us know. We get it! And we’re willing to work with you to help you overcome your anxiety. Contact Us to schedule an appointment so we can get started working on your smile goals together.