For most people visiting a dentist, there have been less memorable experiences than pleasant ones. Well, the thought of an upcoming dental visit is a cause of anxiety for many. The phobia of sitting in a dentist’s chair can lead to several panic reactions, including getting worked up, nausea, shortness of breath, etc.
While dental anxiety might be a reality, it is also true that one of the first things that someone will probably notice about a person, is their set of teeth. Undoubtedly, there is a strong relationship between oral health and the overall health of a person. And guess what? There is a link between dental anxiety and self-confidence as well.
While some people are okay to suffer from dental anxiety and do nothing about it, one cannot ignore the significant effects it has on other aspects of life. Not just ignored dental problems, symptoms like anxiety and the fear of dentistry are also known to cause a decline in self-esteem. It further leads to a phobia and a feeling of guilt emerging from the neglect of dental health. In the past, there have been cases where these effects have been known to impact overall well-being and damage one’s social life.
While the degree of dental anxiety could vary from person to person, it is usually based on the history or bad experience that one has undergone previously. Studies by International Dental Journal show that the fear can extend beyond caring for your teeth and have an impact on one’s education, employment and income as well.
Dental anxiety is caused by various activities carried out within a dental setting. Major triggers include tooth extraction, administering anesthesia, the drill instruments used by dentists, or any other equipment that forms a part of the practice.
Another study conducted in Finland showed that among the men surveyed, many displayed anxieties that were anticipatory in nature. This anticipation of fear led to clinical anxiety and depression among men. In women, it was seen as related to the treatment of dental anxiety and when left to fester, after time and avoidance of dental care, leads to the setting in of embarrassment.
It is nothing short of a social pain where people start indulging in self-punishment, as their self-esteem hits rock bottom while anxiety and avoidance take charge. Social isolation is also known to cause loneliness, paving the way for other health problems like a weak immune system, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, etc.
Today, across the globe, dental anxiety and its related fallout, has become a major obstacle in availing dental care. It is therefore important that we identify those affected by dental anxiety and work out solutions, so that befitting anxiety management practices can be made available.
Also, read: Dental care: The ultimate guide to oral hygiene for older adults
Contributory factors to dental anxiety include age, gender, education level, occupation, financial stability, and previous bad dental experiences that influence dental anxiety to various levels. It is one of the most common outcomes of a lack of a proper oral care system. However, it can be overcome and dentistry is now better equipped to deal with the issues faced by people.
For instance, modern dentistry is far less painful. Advanced technology now makes sure that a crown can be fitted in a single session or scans are taken to know a definite outcome of the procedure. The lesser time spent at a dentist is always a welcome relief. Also, as a community, the dentists’ fraternity is now better prepared to deal with their patients and address their fears.
Reduced levels of dental anxiety make a lot of difference. Dentists are actually available to work with patients dealing with such issues and patients, on their part, should take advantage of the available technology and painless techniques like needle-less administration of anesthesia.
The more effort paid to ensure a customer-first approach, the better control there will be on dental anxiety, both for doctors and the patients.
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