General anxiety

General anxiety is a state experienced by someone when visiting the dentist or anything to do with dentistry. This is part of an overall fear of the dentist which manifests itself in feelings of helplessness, nausea, dread and shakiness.

These and other symptoms mean that the whole experience is a traumatic one and not likely to be repeated.

This means that the person will not bother visiting their dentist for regular check ups which can mean undiagnosed problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. These problems do not disappear unless treated and can lead to long term problems.

Dental check ups are important for not only the general state of your teeth and gums but can also detect problems such as mouth cancer.

What is general anxiety?

This is a term used to describe the state of acute nervousness and fear experienced by someone when faced with a potentially threatening situation.

There are different types of anxiety which range from mild (slight nervousness) through to severe (avoids the dentist altogether).

Many people are scared of seeing the dentist and react in different ways. If this applies to you then your level of anxiety will be different to another equally anxious person.

Is general anxiety the same as dental phobia?

General anxiety is another name for dental fear which is a state of nervousness brought about by the thought of visiting the dentist. But someone who is anxious about this will still see their dentist even though they feel stressed and on edge at the thought of doing so.

Someone with dental phobia has a severe fear of the dentist to the extent that they avoid visiting a dentist which can persist for many years. The outcome of this is that they finally see a dentist when their dental problem has advanced to such a stage that it affects their quality of life.

Many people in this position find that their confidence and self-esteem are lower which is in part due to the state of their teeth. They feel self conscious about the poor condition of their teeth but avoid doing anything about it.

Treatment for general anxiety

The aim is to address the cause of the fear. If this is due to a bad experience at the dentist such as an uncaring dentist then it is important to find a caring and approachable dentist who will take not of your fears and suggest ways of dealing with them.

He or she will be able to advise a variety of ways to reduce your anxiety once you are in the surgery such as learning to relax, pain free injections and methods of distraction such as listening to music or hypnotherapy.

Additional treatments include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and desensitisation therapy.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a well known treatment for all forms of anxiety and requires you to talk about your emotions in regard to a particular event with the aim of changing from a negative to a positive frame of mind.

Desensitisation therapy is another popular treatment for anxiety which involves the affected person being exposed to whatever is causing their fear with the aim of them learning to overcome this fear.

This exposure is increased over a period of time so that the person becomes familiar or desensitised to the problem.

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