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Dental Anxiety

A woman closing her mouth with the fear of dentist in Portland, OR Professional dental care is an integral part of maintaining a healthy mouth. This care includes regular cleanings and exams as well as any treatments needed to address oral health issues that might arise. For some patients, the thought of going to the dentist, even for a regular cleaning and exam, can be a major source of anxiety. At Oregon Periodontics, P.C., we can help.

What Is Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety, as well as dental fear or a dental phobia, is quite common. Approximately 9% to 15% of Americans avoid seeing the dentist for these reasons. While anxiety and fear are often used interchangeably, they are two different things. Dental anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness. Anxious patients often have exaggerated or unfounded fears regarding the idea of dental treatment. A phobia, on the other hand, is intense fear. Those with phobias may be completely terrified or stricken with panic. While those with anxiety might be able to make it to the office for treatment, even though they feel exceptionally nervous, those with a phobia may do anything they can to avoid going in the first place.

What Causes Dental Anxieties and Phobias?

There are several different issues that can cause anxiety or phobias.
•  The fear of pain. The fear of pain is common in adult patients, who were first exposed to dental treatments before the development of pain-free dentistry.
•  The feeling that you have no control. While you are in the chair, you cannot see what is happening, and you have no control over what is going on with your mouth. This feeling of no control or complete helplessness can trigger anxiety.
•  You may feel embarrassed about the condition of your mouth. Also, some people are uncomfortable with the proximity between them and the dental hygienist or dentist.
•  Past experiences. Bad experiences in the past can shape the perception of what future treatments will be like, and can make you feel anxious.

Tips for Dealing With Dental Anxiety

There are a few different ways in which your anxiety can be dealt with so that you can get the treatments that you need when you need them. These include such things as:
•  Communication. Letting us know that you feel anxious will help us to tailor your treatment to make you feel more comfortable. For instance, we can explain to you what we are doing as we are doing it.
•  Taking breaks during treatment. Before treatment, we can establish a signal with you so that you can let us know when you need a break.
•  Listening to music. Calming music can aid in easing anxiety. You may also find some other type of distraction that can help to keep you calm, such as a stress ball or something similar.
•  Sedation. We can also provide you with sedation to help you relax. For minor anxiety, nitrous oxide may be enough. This type of sedation is mild. It is inhaled through the nose and goes to work almost immediately. You are still completely conscious and able to respond to questions and requests. Once the procedure is over, the effects wear off just as quickly, and there are no lingering side effects. If you need stronger sedation, oral conscious sedation may be able to help.

If anxiety is keeping you from getting the dental care you need, we can help. Call Oregon Periodontics, P.C. today to learn more at (503) 575-7750.
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Oregon Periodontics

Office Hours
8:00 AM–3:00 PM
8:00 AM–12:00 PM
11786 Southwest Barnes Rd Suite 210
Portland, OR 97225-5925

Office: (503) 575-7750
Fax: (503) 531-3560

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