Does the thought of visiting the dentist make you anxious? You’re not alone. Thousands of people skip dental appointments because they are fearful of the sights, sounds, and smells of the office or had poor experiences in the past. Unfortunately, long-term dental anxiety can harm more than the health of your smile.
How dental fear can harm your health
Studies have shown a link between oral health and systemic health. Problems that can develop because of poor oral hygiene (cavities, infection, and gum disease) negatively impact the body’s immune system and health as a whole. If the body already has a systemic condition like diabetes or heart disease, the bacteria and inflammation produced by an unhealthy mouth an aggravate these problems. Similarly, problems in your mouth can increase the risk of systemic conditions developing later.
Additionally, without a professional evaluation from a dentist, changes inside your mouth indicative of oral cancer may go unnoticed, which can truly be life-threatening. In cases of oral infection, disease, or cancer, virtually none will go away on their own and will need specialized treatment to ensure your overall health and safety. Putting dental care on hold because of fear can eventually lead to costly and time-consuming treatment and, yes, even life-threatening consequences in some situations.
How you can overcome your dental anxiety
No matter how you developed your dental anxiety or phobia, you can overcome your fears. Today, more and more dentists are recognizing the effect dental fear has on peoples’ health. Many are taking proactive measures to make their office comfortable and relaxing while offering minimally invasive treatments and multiple sedation options. Along with finding a sedation dentist, there are other steps you can take to overcome your dental fears:
- Be open about your fears, even if you’re unsure of their origin
- Find a dentist you feel comfortable around and trust
- Bring a friend or family member to your appointments
- Discuss your dental anxiety and concerns with your dentist
- Practice relaxing breathing techniques before and during your visit
- Distract yourself with movies or music played on your phone
- Let sedation dentistry help you feel calm in the dentist’s chair
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