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    Easing Dental Anxiety in Adults and Children

    May recently marked Mental Health Month, so we want to spend some time discussing how mental health is closely connected to oral health. One common phenomenon that many battle is dental anxiety. If you or any family members resonate with fear, avoidance, or a phobia towards dental visits – you’re not alone and we have some tips for working through it.

    It is estimated that between 9% and 20% of Americans regularly avoid going to the dentist due to fear or anxiety. This may look like delaying treatment, canceling appointments, or feeling intense dental phobia, and it impacts both children and adults.
    Dental phobia is a kind of anxiety disorder, and signs may include:

    Fearing pain, needles, blood, or anesthesia associated with dental treatment
    Associating negative emotions with their dentist, dental offices, or dental equipment
    Experiencing insomnia, escalating nervousness, or physical anxiety symptoms before a dental visit
    While most individuals experience manageable levels of dental fear, it can unfortunately lead to an array of negative consequences for some: worsened anxiety, new health problems, dental pain, and even more complex and costly dental treatments. However, at DDMA we are dedicated to ensuring that you have positive dental visits that help you to maintain excellent oral hygiene.
    Here are a few strategies to help you overcome dental fear and keep your mouth healthy:
    Acknowledge your fear: Dental phobia tends to worsen over time, as your symptoms may become exacerbated and your fear increases. By confronting the issue with family or friends, you may feel relief in creating a plan to deal with it and regaining control over the situation. Bringing a friend or family member can also help normalize the experience and provide comfort.

    Speak with your dentist: Your dentist is trained to deal with patient anxiety and can help make the process easier. They may share more details about your treatment, answer questions, and recommend techniques for soothing fear.

    Practice functional relaxation techniques: Anxiety can disturb the functions of your nervous system, so practicing mindfulness can help soothe symptoms. This includes practicing breathing techniques, tensing and releasing muscles, or listening to music. Through intentional distractions or meditation, you can release tension and feel better about your visit.
    Taking care of your oral health is critical for maintaining your overall health, including your mental state. Dental fear is a common phobia, but it can be managed with help from your dental professional and a combination of the above strategies.