Understanding Dental Anxiety & How We Can Help 


If you have ever felt that unwanted pit in your stomach while scheduling a dental appointment, you are not alone. Studies have shown that about 36% of people in the United States have a fear of dental procedures, including 12% being classified as having an extreme fear.

This type of anxiety can lead us to avoid important routine healthcare checkups, essential procedures, and to ignore potential oral problems in order to delay seeing a dentist or oral surgeon. The experience of the anxiety is real. But unfortunately, avoiding this important preventative care puts your health at risk. We need to keep those appointments, and address issues with oral health as early as possible.

We understand this dilemma and its potential danger to your health, and do our very best to provide the tools and resources to help ease fear and anxiety before, during and after visiting our office. Part of that is to help you feel like you know what’s going on. So let’s talk about that dental anxiety, measures you can take to help manage it, and how Wilmington Oral Surgery supports you throughout the process.

Why Do We Experience Anxiety About Seeing an Oral Surgeon?

Identifying where these anxious feelings are coming from is the first step in working through that pre-appointment anxiety. Whether you begin to feel anxious surrounding all medical fields or specifically oral care, a number of different factors can be influencing your distress. Most commonly, patient anxiety stems from three main sources:

  • Fear of the Unknown. Within any part of life, participation in unknown situations can introduce a certain level of anxiety. Specifically in medicine, unknown factors include variables like level of diagnosis, procedure requirements, negative side-effects, and prolonged loss of daily function.
  • Loss of Control. As humans, having control over our choices and bodily autonomy is extremely important to feel safe and secure. Sometimes in medicine, things can feel out of our control, in turn causing feelings of distress and fear. This is often true with fears around anesthesia and sedation during oral surgery.
  • Pain and Process. This is a big one – pain and process. Many questions run through our heads asking things like “How bad will it hurt?” or “How will I manage the pain after?”. Extremely common and completely understandable that sitting in a medical office wondering how much pain you might endure can greatly increase anxiety. No oral surgery is truly painless, no matter how high the quality of care, and that can be daunting for people.

Great – now we’ve identified some elements as to why you might be avoiding scheduling that overdue dental checkup or oral procedure. But proper oral healthcare is exceptionally important, as poor hygiene has been linked to other conditions like diabetes and cardiac conditions. To help you combat your fears and welcome you into the office with as little anxiety as possible, we do our best to address those 3 big sources of anxiety.

What We Can Do To Help Keep You Calm

As an oral surgery clinic, comfortable, safe, and painless care is our main priority. Spending the time to make certain our patients feel confident in our abilities will work to reduce feelings of anxiety and fear.

  • Education. As mentioned previously, a primary cause of dental anxiety is fear of the unknown and potential discomfort. Combating these things can only be done with proper patient education and clear communication. During your consultation, leading up to your appointment, during the procedure, and following post-op, your care team will walk you through the process and discuss any concerns you may have. We are at your disposal, please ask any questions that pop into your mind, no matter how big or small they may seem.
  • Support. Facing fear alone can make it more difficult to work through. Identifying people who can offer support before and after your appointments will help combat those anxious thoughts and feelings. Please reach out to our office with any questions or concerns surrounding your treatment; we can be of support to you.
  • Holistic Care. Many people have anxiety around how invasive surgery is, and around taking pain pills during recovery. We help you manage pain and optimize recovery before, during and after surgery. A natural recovery kit offers holistic support for inflammation and healing over 10 days – 3 days before the oral procedure and 7 days after. Our natural surgical methods like Waterlase, dentin bone grafting, red light therapy, and platelet-rich fibrin minimize tissue trauma and encourage faster tissue healing.

What You Can Do to Prepare & Prevent Anxiety Around Your Oral Surgery

Part of dental anxiety is feeling out of control. So you should try to take control of the problem in any way you can. Things you can do to feel confident around your oral surgery include:

  • 12% of people experience extreme fear of dental procedures. If you feel this might apply to you, don’t hesitate to find a mental health professional that specializes in fear and phobias.
  • Ask for Help. We offer patients several levels of sedation for oral surgery. This is different from anesthesia, which prevents you from feeling anything during the procedure. Sedation for your oral surgery helps you feel calm, relaxed and unaware of what’s happening.
  • Take a break. Discuss with our oral surgeon a signal you can use that he needs to stop and you need to take a short break to take some deep breaths.

Remember, proper oral care is an important aspect of our overall health. We understand that fear and anxiety, especially within medical organizations, can be quite the mountain to climb. It’s very important to find a dental office or oral surgeon that prioritizes your health and well-being to help defeat those anxious feelings. Know you are not alone, and remember that on the other side of fear is trust in your provider!

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