The Difference Between Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia

Cosmetic & Implant Dentists Accepting New Patients in Lone Tree, Centennial, Highlands Ranch & Nearby Colorado

Posted: February 4, 2019

The terms “dental anxiety” and “dental phobia” are often used interchangeably. While it’s true that both of these conditions can make people avoid the dental care that they need, they are not the same thing. Keep reading to learn the difference between these two common issues, and how sedation dentistry can help.

What is Dental Anxiety?

Woman with dental anxiety at Meadows Dental GroupDental anxiety is incredibly common and can affect anyone. The term is generally used to describe feelings of unease, fear, or stress before or during a dental appointment.

Dental anxiety can be attributed to a variety of factors. There may be certain things about the dental setting that trigger your stress, such as a fear of needles. The perceived lack of control during a dental appointment can also cause you to feel uneasy.

If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you may be apprehensive to learn about the condition of your teeth and gums. You may feel self-conscious about your oral health, or worried that your dentist will judge you.

Dental anxiety affects everyone a little differently. You may notice that your heart beats a bit faster as your appointment gets closer. You may sweat more than usual too.

Sometimes, dental anxiety will cause people to postpone or skip their dental appointments. However, most people still see their dentist despite feeling nervous or stressed.

What is Dental Phobia?

Dental phobia is more severe than dental anxiety, and it is also less common. This condition leaves people feeling completely overwhelmed and terrified by the thought of visiting the dentist.

There are different degrees of dental phobia. You may avoid scheduling an appointment until you experience a painful issue, or you may never visit the dentist at all.

The same things that cause dental anxiety can also cause dental phobia. A bad experience at a different dental practice can also lead to dental phobia.

In many cases, people with dental phobia know that their fear is irrational. However, they still have a hard time confronting and overcoming their panicked feelings without help.

Signs that you may have dental phobia include:

  • Feeling incredibly nervous as your appointment gets closer
  • Trouble sleeping or eating before your dental visit
  • Feeling physically sick before your dental exam or treatment
  • Feeling very emotional or crying before your dental appointment
  • Suddenly feeling like you are having trouble breathing before or during your visit

The Cost of Avoiding the Dentist

Avoiding the dentist can create a cycle of poor oral health. People who postpone dental treatment tend to increase their risk of gum disease, cavities, early tooth loss, and more.

Unfortunately, oral health issues can affect your general health too. Poor oral health has been linked to conditions such as heart disease and lung infections.

Avoiding the dentist can also take an emotional toll. Without dental treatment, you will likely suffer from cosmetic issues that affect your teeth and gums.

If your teeth are discolored or damaged, you may go through life feeling embarrassed. You might start to cover your mouth when you talk or laugh, which can hurt your self-esteem.

Overcome Your Fear with Sedation Dentistry

Thankfully, you don’t have to live with dental anxiety or phobia. There are easy and effective ways to overcome your fear.

There is one gentle and effective method that has worked time and time again, even for patients with extreme dental phobia. That method is sedation dentistry. You can read reviews from patients just like you who now feel comfortable in our chair thanks to sedation.

"I had a severe case of ‘dental phobia’ until I met and was treated by Dr. O’Leary. A root canal was not my idea of meeting a new dentist, however before, during and after the treatment I was very comfortable and pleased with the results. All in all, the procedure was uneventful. Future cleanings, fillings, etc. will no longer be a concern." – Scott B.

Schedule Your Lone Tree Dental Visit Today

If you suffer from dental anxiety or phobia, our compassionate dentists completely understand your situation. That’s why Dr. O’Leary and Dr. Peppler are passionate about providing comfortable, professional, and judgment-free dental care.

Call 303-790-2323 to schedule a consultation to learn more about your sedation dentistry options. We proudly serve the Lone Tree, Centennial and Highlands Ranch areas of Colorado.

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