Anxiety associated with the dentist is a common phenomenon. Approximately 3-16% of adults experience dental phobia, ranging from a general unease to outright panic. This anxiety can stem from a number of things, including feelings of fear and/or shame. If you’ve been avoiding going to the dentist due to anxiety, there’s no shame in asking your dentist to make accommodations for you.
Dr. Margaret Culotta-Norton in Washington, DC, has experience dealing with anxious patients. She and her team will do everything they can to make sure you’re comfortable during your dental cleaning, tooth whitening, or emergency visit. Professional care is a necessary part of maintaining your dental hygiene, so it’s important that you visit the dentist often — even if it makes you nervous.
Symptoms and causes of dental anxiety
While overcomed by dental anxiety, you might experience the following symptoms:
- Panic attacks
- Racing thoughts
- Restless nights leading up to the appointment
- Last-minute cancellations
As mentioned above, many different things can lead to dental anxiety. Some people simply carry this anxiety over from childhood, while others develop phobias after traumatic dental experiences. Anxieties surrounding the dentist often include:
- Self-consciousness about your teeth or face
- Fear surrounding injections or anesthesia
- Feelings of helplessness
- Shame over the condition of your teeth or gums
- Fear of tooth loss
- Fear of pain
Regardless of the root of your anxiety, you shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed of feeling scared. Plenty of people have a fear of dentists, so you’re not alone. The prevalence of dental anxiety has led many dentists to take measures to alleviate it and help patients overcome their fear.
Overcoming dental anxiety
Like most phobias, dentophobia (or odontophobia) doesn’t have an easy cure. However, you can work through your fear with a good dentist. Here are some tips to help with dental anxiety.
- Take a friend or family member to your appointment
- Schedule an early appointment, so you don’t have time to stress
- Listen to music during your treatment
- Ask to be sedated for your dental procedure
- Talk it over with your dentist
The last point is especially important. If you suffer from dental anxiety, make sure to find a dentist that understands your fears and makes accommodations for them. Simply getting to know your dentist can help you trust them and feel more comfortable.
Are you looking for a compassionate, understanding dentist? Dr. Margaret Culotta-Norton can give you the care you need while respecting your boundaries. Schedule a consultation by calling 202-833-1111, or request an appointment online.