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Understanding and Managing Dental Anxiety

Don’t let your anxiety stop your oral care.


Most people don’t look at dental appointments with enthusiasm. In fact, about one-third of the general population experiences dental anxiety. But the dentist’s office is not a place that should cause fear. Most dental procedures don’t hurt, but for most people, even an examination can be stressful. Additionally, more than one in every three Americans says that COVID-19 is affecting their mental health. It’s not surprising that concerns and higher than normal anxiety about dental visits are running high. Let’s briefly look at the difference between anxiety and phobia.

Anxiety vs. Phobia

Most people who have anxiety about dentists can live with it, but there are those who suffer from dental phobia. A phobia is intense and unreasonable fear. Persons with a dental phobia are so terrified about going to the dentist that they avoid it for years or even decades. They even put up with extreme cavities, gum disease, broken teeth, and a lot of pain. Dental phobia and anxiety are extremely common. More than 15% of individuals in the U.S. avoid seeing a dentist because of fear and anxiety. This means roughly 45 million people don’t see the dentist because of fear.

What causes anxiety and phobia?

Dental anxieties and phobias torment people for many different reasons. Researchers have made studies on this, and a few common triggers emerged.

  • Pain: Six percent of the people who have not visited the dentist in the past 12 months have reported pain as the primary factor. Fear of pain is frequent in people of 24 and older.
  • Loss of control and feelings of helplessness: People develop different phobias in a situation where they have no control. They can’t predict what the next event will be, and they feel helpless.
  • Embarrassment: Many people feel embarrassed or ashamed to have an unknown person look into their mouth. This is for people who are self-conscious about their looks.
  • Negative past experience: Any discomfort or pain during previous dental visits can be a trigger of anxiety and phobia.

The Impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 has certainly had a huge impact on patients. In one online survey conducted since the COVID-19 outbreak, 45% of respondents reported having dental health problems during the pandemic, potentially because of a lack of dental care.

It has also taken its toll on dental professionals. Dentists and hygienists have the highest rate of exposure to the virus among all healthcare workers since the mouth is a key source of coronavirus transmission. But rest assured that your dental care providers take this very seriously. At Holistic Dental Care New Jersey, we have strict protocols in place to keep both you and our staff safe.

Should You Go to The Dentist? Yes!

Here are some ways to help you decrease your dental anxiety so you can have a healthy mouth and smile again.

Communicate With Your Dentist!

Talk about your fears and become more informed. Share any recent exposure, travel, and underlying conditions. Ask questions! The more you know, the better the experience will be.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene at Home

Obviously, brushing twice and flossing once a day are first on the list. But other holistic options for at-home care can also help. Oral pro- and prebiotics can be a good place to start. When you know you are doing everything you can to care for your teeth at home, you will feel less anxious at your appointment.

Honor Your Dentist’s Requirements

If you feel ill, reschedule your appointment and get tested! Expect and respect the fact that your dental care providers will be wearing more protective gear. Expect to wear a mask at all times unless you are actually being treated—it’s for everyone’s safety!

Follow CDC Guidelines

Here’s a great link to remind you of the CDC guidelines: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

Choose a Great Dentist!

Our team at Holistic Dental Center would love to have you become part of our ever-growing family! Join us and begin your journey!  Contact us and schedule your appointment today.

You may also call 973-718-5104.