Studies show that about half of Canadians experience anxiety about dental treatment, and roughly a quarter can be considered as highly anxious. Dental anxiety is more common in the 20 to 40 years old age group as compared with younger and older individuals. There is no relationship between the individual’s general level of education and experience of dental anxiety; however, there tends to be a correlation between the specific knowledge of dentistry and experience of anxiety: the more dentally informed patients usually experience less anxiety during treatment (that being said, even many dentists are afraid of being the patient themselves). This is because the primary causes of dental anxiety are:
- The actual experience of pain: most people can recall at least one dental appointment that was really painful.
- The anticipation of pain: for example, the expectation that the needle will hurt causes significant anxiety in some individuals.
Dental anxiety causes patients to avoid regular check-ups and delay treatment until the situation becomes really critical. This, ironically, increases the pain experienced and further fuels the individual’s anxiety. The treatment for dental anxiety is aimed at addressing its root causes:
- For elimination of actual pain:
- During the procedure, we use several different local anaesthetics (freezing) each tailored to a specific situation. We may also prescribe medications to take before the procedure that would help enhance the freezing effects.
- For after the procedure, we may also prescribe more medications to relieve pain after the freezing has worn off.
- For management of the anticipation of pain:
- We offer various levels of sedation depending on each individual’s needs.
- We also can always take some extra time, before and during the procedure, to explain the treatment details if you think that would be helpful to reduce your anxiety.
- There is one particular type of local anaesthetics (freezing) that lasts a very short of amount of time; though counter intuitive, this drug becomes useful for patients that are anxious about feeling frozen after the appointment has completed.