What Is Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety is a common condition that is associated with a dental patient in the dental setting; in which a person develops a fear of dental treatment.

This can happens as a result of previous negative experiences with dental treatment. Dental fear or dentophobia is a normal emotional reaction to one or more specific threatening stimuli in the dental setting. It’s estimated that about one out of seven dental patients are suffering from dental anxiety of which severe cases result in the postponement of the dental procedure due to the severity of dental fear in order to overcome the anxiety or to seek another specialist medical intervention.

Causes Of Dental Anxiety

Dental anxiety or dentophobia can happen as a result of many reasons there are some that are acquiring it after undergoing or watching dental procedures which these experience triggers them to develop dental fear. While others are natural, they can not even explain why they fear dental procedures. Here are some causes of dental anxiety ;

  • Fear of pain. This common dental fear can be the result of a painful dental procedure or experiences among others.
  • Fear of injection or needle; fear of needles is very common especially when they need to be placed in the oral cavity.  It’s estimated that most dental patients are not afraid of the procedure much more than the local Anastasia injection that is used to be given in the mouth.
  • Anesthetic side effects. Some patients are afraid of the anesthesia side effects following the procedure such as numbness of the tissues around the mouth and dizziness. These side effects go away quickly, but they can make patients worry about not knowing what to expect later.
  • Fear of feeling helpless or out of control. Having sat still on a dental chair while the dentist carrying out the procedure in your mouth and not being able to see what exactly happening can cause some people to feel vulnerable due to uncertainty.
  • Fear of embarrassment. Some people feel self-conscious about the condition of their teeth or breath, especially if the dentist or oral health therapist is very close to their personal space. They may fear that the dentist can judge them for not maintaining oral hygiene.

Signs and Symptoms Of Dental Anxiety

  • Sweating
  • Increase in heartbeat or palpitation
  • High blood pressure
  • Distress, crying, or panic attack Withdrawal or using humor or aggression to mask anxiety
  • Consistently missing dental appointments.

How To Know That a Dental Patient is Anxious

Dental anxiety can be only diagnosed prior to a dental procedure in which the dentist will observe some sign of dental anxiety, especially during a conversation with the patient about a specific proposed dental procedure.

How To Manage Anxiety in Dental Patients

Although most of the treatments for dental anxiety are psychological methods where only a few are not which are listed below ;

  1. Distraction. There is evidence that focusing attention on a specific alternative visual or auditory stimuli in a dental clinic might be beneficial to the patient to a patient with mild or moderate dental anxiety.
  2. Positive reinforcement. Particularly in children and adults, positive reinforcement may help in calming patients with dental anxiety prior to dental procedures.
  3. Diaphragmatic or relaxation breathing. It’s difficult to be tense and breathe from your abdomen at the same time. That is why relaxation breathing has been used effectively across a wide range of anxious situations.
  4. Scheduling appointments. It’s generally recommended that fearful individuals schedule appointments when they are not rushed or stressed, especially early in the morning might help patients with dental anxiety.

The Use Of Aromatherapy To Manage Anxiety in Dental Patients

Aromatherapy is a traditional complementary therapy that uses concentrated essential or volatile oils extracted from herbs, flowers, roots, barks, leaves and stems, and other parts of plants to treat various diseases. These oils have healing, stimulating, calming, antitoxic and anti-septic effects. These oils alter psychological state, reduce stress and anxiety, and are also used to give energy and balance the body, mind, and spirit. Examples of these oils are extracted from trees like  lavender,

How does Aromatherapy Work

Aromatherapy works through the sense of smell, when these oils are inhaled activate the olfactory nerve cells, which then send impulses to the brain causing circulatory and nervous stimulation

Application of Aromatherapy to Manage Anxiety In the Dental Office.

In the dental office, aromatherapy can be used to manage

  •  Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Panic Attacks
  • It can also be used to induce; relaxation

How to Use Aromatherapy in managing Dental anxiety patients.

Aromatherapy can be used in three different ways viz;

  1. Inhalation: This is possible using a vaporizer, humidifier, or diffuser it can be poured a few drops of the oil on the palm, rubbed together, and inhale deeply with hands over the face.
  2. Internal use: It can be taken directly, in capsule form, or by mixing with drink or food.Topical use: You can apply the oil directly on the skin in a concentrated or diluted (using carrier oils) form.

The smell is a potent wizard and is capable of changing emotional states. Aromatherapy in dental settings is a low-cost and effective way of reducing anxiety. It is a safe and complementary therapy and should find applications in regular dentistry for a high-quality practice

It’s important to visit your dentist after every six months, brush your teeth twice daily last thing at the night and after breakfast in the morning. Take good care of your good personal hygiene it helps in preventing your body at large not even your mouth.