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Common Causes of Dental Anxiety

Common Causes of Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety is common, affecting about 36% of the population. On top of that group, another 12% experience extreme dental fear that contributes to delayed (sometimes indefinitely) dental care.

Dr. Lovely Manlapaz Teodoro recognizes that there are many factors at play when it comes to dental anxiety. In this blog, he explores the common causes of dental anxiety and what we can do to ease your dental anxiety here at The Dental Center of Hercules.

4 common causes of dental anxiety

According to research published in Dental Principles and Practice, the most common causes of dental anxiety include past traumatic experiences, second-hand stories, and personality traits.

1. Past traumatic experiences

Past traumatic experiences are one of the main factors when exploring the causes of dental anxiety. This can include:

Past traumatic experiences, whether you’ve experienced them as an adult or child, can make it more likely that you experience dental anxiety in the present. You might hesitate to receive dental work if you’re worried that the past events will repeat themselves. 

2. Vicarious learning

Dental anxiety doesn’t just stem from your own experiences. Vicarious learning refers to second-hand stories that a friend or family member shares with you. Maybe your dad had a rough recovery after wisdom tooth removal, or maybe your brother isn’t happy with his crown. Even though these events didn’t happen to you, they can still increase the fear that they could happen to you.

3. Personality traits

The same study also found that people with certain personality traits were more likely to experience dental anxiety. This includes people who tend to be more introverted. While all introverts don’t automatically develop dental phobia, introversion can make it harder for you to speak up if you’re concerned. 

This is especially true if fear of the unknown contributes to your dental anxiety. If you fall into this category, Dr. Teodoro encourages you to let us know about your concerns. Sometimes, all it takes is a quick explanation of an upcoming procedure to ease your concerns. Knowledge is power, and we’re always happy to walk you through each step of your upcoming dental work so you feel prepared and confident. 

4. Other anxiety disorders

Dental anxiety can also appear in conjunction with other anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder.

Identify your anxiety triggers

Dental anxiety can make you feel apprehensive, jittery, or excessively worried. You might experience physical symptoms, such as headaches, upset stomach, or even nausea. If you can identify what you’re specifically worried about, we can walk through your options. 

For example, if the dental sounds (drills, etc.) make your anxiety worse, we recommend wearing noise-canceling earbuds during your appointment. If you don’t like feeling in the dark, we can verbally explain each step of the process. The fear of pain is a big anxiety trigger, and if that’s true for you, we can explain all of the protocols in place to keep you comfortable.

Other strategies to feel at ease include:

Sedation dentistry is another option to help reduce dental anxiety. 

How sedation dentistry combats dental anxiety

Sedation dentistry reduces feelings of anxiety, panic, and worry by relaxing you. There are different methods of sedation, and each method relaxes you in a different way. Depending on your level of anxiety and what type of dental work you need, Dr. Teodoro may suggest:

With sedation anxiety, your body physically relaxes, and in some cases, you may even lose track of time or drift off to sleep. Don’t let anxiety keep you from getting the dental care you need. To explore your sedation options, call our Hercules, California, office at 510-254-3328 to schedule an appointment. Don’t forget: You can access our online booking system 24/7.

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