For some patients, a trip to the dentist causes more than a little discomfort. Some people experience tightness in their chest, elevated blood pressure, shortness of breath and feelings of near panic. It’s called dental anxiety and it’s not as uncommon as many patients might think. As a dentist, Waco, TX resident Steven T. Cutbirth DDS has seen this condition many times. There are ways to treat this issue so the patient can receive quality dental care.
Dental Anxiety is Not Uncommon
It has been estimated that up to 75% of American adults experience some degree of this condition. Women report experiencing dental anxiety at a higher rate than men do. Younger people also report higher levels of anxiety than older people.
Their level of discomfort can range from a small case of nerves to a fully realized phobia. Many patients feel enough dental anxiety to postpone routine cleanings and treatment for other issues or avoid them altogether. This avoidance can lead to a cycle of anxiety and tooth decay.
The Anxiety Cycle
Most dental anxiety sufferers have a lower quality of dental health than patients without this issue. They typically have more areas of decay and often lose their teeth earlier and at a higher rate than their counterparts with no anxiety or a lower level of anxiety. This creates a downward spiral of negative experiences at the dentist’s office which elevates the level of anxiety, making the patient less willing to seek care and more prone to further decay. It is a dangerous cycle of fear and suffering.
Causes of Dental Anxiety
Negative experiences at a dentist’s office are usually the cause of dental anxiety. The patient may have had a painful or invasive procedure in his childhood or more recent past. It may be his perceived lack of control in the situation that causes the anxious response.
The patient may have been influenced by negative messages in the media through TV shows and movies portraying dental treatments as excessively frightening or painful. He may have acquired his fears from a parent with the same condition. The patient may have other social or psychological issues like obsessive/compulsive disorder or generalized anxiety that contribute to his dental anxiety.
Treatment for Dental Anxiety
There is no need for patients to continue in this painful and unhealthy pattern. There are a number of options to treat dental anxiety.
• Behavioral modification therapy
• Pharmacological (prescription medication) therapy
• Cognitive therapy
• Systematic desensitization
• Sedation dentistry
These therapies and treatment options vary in the level of dedication demanded, the costs involved and length of time required to see measurable results. Sedation dentistry is one of the more reasonably priced and convenient options available. As a Waco sedation dentist, Dr. Cutbirth has seen patients get excellent results from sedation dentistry.
In this practice, an appropriately trained dentist can administer sedation to make the patient as comfortable and stress-free as possible. Levels of sedation can range from mild to moderate depending on the practice and the patient’s needs. Sedation can be administered by mouth, through nasal inhalation or intravenously. (General anesthesia, where the patient is in deep sedation and unconscious, is typically only administered in a hospital setting.)
Sedation allows the patient to remain calm and relaxed throughout any procedure, whether it is a routine cleaning or a more involved process. The medications typically used are non-addictive and carry few, if any, side effects but remember that any kind of sedation carries some risks.
If you are one of the many patients living with dental anxiety, consider your treatment options for better dental health. Don’t allow fear and anxiety to steal your smile.
Steven T. Cutbirth DDS
1613 Lake Success Drive
Waco, TX 76710
(254) 772-5420 ?
A day at the dentist | Flickr – Photo Sharing! : taken from – http://www.flickr.com/photos/zivkovic/6837588605/Author: Zdenko Zivkovic http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en