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Adult Dentistry

How to Treat Adult Dental Anxiety

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or most people, going to the dentist is a necessary evil. They might not enjoy their visit, but they can get through it without a hitch. But for the percentage of people who are afraid of going to the dentist, this everyday experience instills intense anxiety and fear in them. 

If you are someone who struggles with dental anxiety, you are not alone. About 9% to 20% of U.S. citizens avoid going to the dentist due to anxiety or fear. Thankfully, there are numerous treatment options available for people who fear going to the dentist. Greentree, PA dental expert Rosslyn Farms Dental Aesthetics examines the causes, signs, and treatment options for dental anxiety now.  

Signs and Causes of Dental Anxiety

Dentist in Greentree, PA Examines the Most Common Signs and Causes of Dental Phobia

stressed kid at the dentist

Signs That You Have Dental Anxiety

Do you have trouble sleeping the night before an appointment? Does the thought of going to the dentist make you physically ill? Do you avoid the dentist unless you have a severe dental emergency? These are some of the most common signs of dental anxiety. 

Dental anxiety can affect anyone, regardless of gender or age. Some people who experience a traumatic incident at the dentist’s office can usually recuperate after time and treatment. Learning how to handle your anxiety is critical for ensuring that you visit the dentist on a regular basis. Avoiding the dentist for prolonged periods of time can increase your chances of requiring more complex treatments as a result of dental disease. 

Common Causes of Dental Anxiety

There are a number of reasons why you might be experiencing dental anxiety. For some people, the fear of pain keeps them from going to the dentist. Greentree, PA dental expert Rosslyn Farms also understands that some patients feel helpless or uncomfortable with the physical closeness of their dentist. 

Other common causes of dental anxiety include:

  • Going through a traumatic ordeal at the dentist
  • Dealing with general anxiety disorder or depression
  • Trouble with trust issues
  • Fear of needles or anesthetic side effects

Treating Dental Anxiety or Dental Phobia

Methods for Treating Dental Anxiety by Dentist in Greentree, PA

young female dental patient

While dental anxiety is relatively common among people, dental phobia is defined by more severe symptoms that can negatively impact one’s dental health. People who avoid the dentist completely as a result of an intense and irrational fear of it may suffer from dental phobia. 

Telling your dentist about your anxiety or phobia is critical for allowing them to help you manage it. Many offices can make adjustments or personal treatment plans that help you through your dental anxiety or phobia. 

Anxiety Relieving Medication

two female pharmacists

Some dentists and physicians prescribe anxiety-relieving medications like temazepam to help their patients relax. Most patients only need to take a single dose about an hour before their dental appointment. If your physician prescribes this medication for you, make sure you have someone to drive you to and from the office. People under the influence of anxiety-relieving medications are usually not fit to drive a car. 

Sedation

Some patients require oral sedation or intravenous (IV) sedation. Your dental office might also use nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, to put you in a relaxed state. Each method offers its own benefits. 

Halcion is the most common pill used for oral sedation. Patients typically take this pill an hour before the procedure. IV sedation offers dentists greater control over your levels of sedation. Laughing gas wears off quickly after your dentist removes the mask from you. You can drive yourself home afterward. 

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is used in a hospital setting by either a dentist or anesthetist. This treatment puts patients completely to sleep during their procedure. If you choose to undergo general anesthesia during a dental procedure, you will need to make pre- and post-operative visits to the dentist. You will also need someone else to drive you home after your appointment. 

Relaxation Techniques

teenager talking to mental health counselor

For most people, coping techniques such as: 

  • Deep breathing 
  • Meditation
  • Distraction
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation 

are helpful in alleviating their anxiety. 

If you begin to feel anxious at the dentist, you can practice deep breathing and meditation techniques to help calm you down. Distracting yourself with music or an audiobook can also help you take your mind off of your discomfort. 

Progressive Muscle Relaxation is another effective technique for easing your anxiety at the dentist. This relaxation method involves tensing different groups of muscles as you breathe deeply and relaxing them when you breathe out. Some people perform this technique according to their own breathing pattern while others follow an audio recording. 


Facing dental anxiety isn’t easy. But learning how to face it can improve both your mental and dental health. Searching for a dentist in Greentree, PA? Contact the team at Rosslyn Farms Dental Aesthetics to request an appointment today.

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