Dental Fear and Anxiety

Posted by Shannon Eggleton on

Dental anxiety can feel truly alienating.  Those who have never experienced dental fear may think it’s “silly” or an overreaction, and brush off those fears as something easily overcome.  But the truth is, an excruciating fear of the dentist affects 5-8% of all individuals. People who experience this intense dental anxiety never visit the dentist, no matter the situation.  They will endure terrible pain and illness just to stay out of the dentist’s chair.  An additional 20% only see their dentist when it cannot be avoided; in other words, during a true dental emergency or other urgent matter.


Dental anxiety may not seem like an important issue; many people -- even those without dental fear -- don’t see their dentist as often as is recommended by health professionals. But avoiding the dentist isn’t just potentially detrimental to dental health; it can negatively impact overall health as well.


The oral cavity is connected to the entire body in different ways. Excessive bacteria caused by untreated periodontitis (advanced gingivitis; gum infections)  that enter the bloodstream from tiny lesions or fissures in mouth tissues can lead to many different diseases. So while it’s likely unsurprising that receiving regular preventative dental care can lead to early detection of diseases like oral cancer (which can be fatal), what many don’t realize is that regular dental exams can also help prevent many other life-threatening diseases. The bacteria that cause gum disease has been linked not just to tooth loss, but also to infertility, breast cancer and heart disease. Regular dental check ups truly do more than just keep mouths healthy.


Interestingly, most dental fear and anxiety isn't rooted in a previous experience of dental pain or discomfort during a dental visit.  Instead, underlying issues such as anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, having been a victim of physical abuse or substance abuse are more likely to be the cause. This means that, for most, dental fear is more a product of feeling unable to control the immediate environment while undergoing dental treatment than a fear of dental pain.


The use of clinical aromatherapy is one way to take back control during anxiety-inducing situations, such as dental appointments.  It has been studied in clinical settings, including dentists’ offices, and research proves that aromatherapy eases anxiety, quickly, and naturally.


Ascents® Calm No. 34 personal aromatherapy diffuser sachet is a convenient, affordable and clinically-backed way to help control anxiety naturally during dental appointments. It is also discreet, making Calm No. 34 ideal for use before, during and after dental procedures. 


Additionally, patients who suffer from dental anxiety and fear should not be afraid of voicing their concerns directly to their dental practitioner and asking how they may be made more comfortable. In return, patients with dental anxiety can and should expect their dental practitioners to be open to their emotions and feelings of fear and vulnerability.  Finding a dental practice that is the right fit can be key. Some indicators that a practice may be one to consider include:

  • Available office tours for those who wish to become more comfortable with the environment
  • The allowance of extra time during appointments to thoroughly discuss procedures and calm fears
  • Empathetic staff who understand that dental fear and anxiety is real and requires special consideration

 

Therefore, during dental visits, it should be expected that dentists and their staffs will:

  • Thoroughly and calmly explain what will be taking place
  • Stop the procedure at any time there is discomfort
  • Frequently ask for permission to continue
  • Make time to stop for breaks as requested
  • Offer a range of comfort measures
  • Maintain a patient, supportive and unhurried demeanor

Finding ways to overcome dental fear and anxiety is essential; achieving excellent overall health when in poor oral health is nearly impossible. To learn more about how Ascents clinical aromatherapy can help ease dental fear and anxiety, or to purchase Ascents® Calm No. 34 personal essential oil diffusers, visit shopascents.com.  

Ascents clinical aromatherapy can also assist dental professionals by creating a calm, serene environment for patients, especially those with dental anxiety.  Purchase the Ascents line of commercial-grade aromatherapy diffusers and ScentGels for dental offices at shopascents.com.


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