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Healthy Smiles: Where Patients With Dental Anxiety Can Smile Again

Dental anxiety often results in missed dental appointments and poor dental hygiene. At Healthy Smiles, we’re dedicated to making dentist visits fun again!

Going to the dentist used to be one of the most uninviting, provoking, and triggering experiences, but recent advancements in technology and a greater investment in patient care have revolutionized that experience – making your trip to the dentist much more positive, memorable, rewarding, and enriching.

With that said, it’s completely normal to feel anxious, nervous, worried, or uneasy ahead of your dental visit – it means you care about your oral health, which is a good thing! As long as the anxiety doesn’t interfere with your plans to visit the dentist, you’ll eventually face and overcome your fear of the dentist.

At Healthy Smiles, we’re committed to doing anything and everything possible to accommodate your needs and expectations, and we believe that starts with understanding what dental anxiety is, how it can affect oral health, and what the patient and doctor can do to make it a more pleasing experience for all.

So, what is dental anxiety? 

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress – it’s our brain’s way of alerting us of a potential threat, giving us an opportunity to avoid danger. While it’s completely normal to feel anxious from time to time (also known as occasional anxiety), sometimes that anxiety turns into something much more severe.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of anxiety: 

  • Excessive sweating
  • Skipped, extra, or irregular heartbeat
  • Racing, rapid, or fast heartbeat
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Crying or other signs of visible stress
  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • Feeling restless, having a hard time staying still

Dental anxiety is no different. It’s the body’s natural response to the stress we feel before a dental visit. And while there’s nothing wrong with feeling a little anxious, worried, or nervous before your appointment, some people get more anxious than others – if this sounds like you, don’t worry, we can get through this!

Dental Anxiety: How Does It Affect Oral Health? 

Occasional anxiety is something our bodies naturally overcome – it’s not something that lives rent-free in your head. As the anxiety grows more severe, it starts to affect the way we act and behave. For example, those with dental anxiety tend to avoid visiting the dentist for years at a time – until absolutely necessary.

This, of course, can affect oral health in a variety of ways: 

Lack of preventive care. Since most people with dental anxiety tend to avoid the dentist, they miss out on one of the biggest benefits of visiting your doctor – preventive care. Without regular check-ups, your doctor can’t properly monitor your oral health and won’t be able to diagnose problems in a timely manner.

Poor dental hygiene. Piggy-backing off the previous point, most people with severe cases of dental anxiety exhibit poor dental hygiene by not addressing problem areas in a timely manner (if at all). As time passes, the need for major treatments and invasive surgery rises – making your dental anxiety worse. 

Lower quality of life. Most people don’t account for the emotional and mental effects of dental anxiety. As our oral health worsens, we lose confidence in ourselves. We grow more distant – not just with ourselves, but also those around us. The good news is you can rewrite the script starting today!

Smile Brighter, Worry Less: Overcoming Your Dental Fears

Dental anxiety has a way of repeating itself – in science, they call this the ‘vicious cycle of anxiety.’ We start to feel anxious about our oral symptoms, so we avoid dental care, which worsens the symptoms, creating an even greater need for dental care, which heightens the anxiety – starting the cycle over again. 

So, how do we break that cycle? With teamwork, communication, collaboration, and an understanding between doctor and patient. 

Here are some of the things your favorite Staten Island dentist – Dr. Joseph Cipriano – does to make the experience a little more inviting and relaxing for patients with dental anxiety: 

  • We maintain a relaxing and uplifting environment for our patients
  • Our dental team is friendly, understanding, and sympathetic to all patients
  • We ditch the traditional white gowns and opt for more colorful attire
  • Our office has soft, soothing music playing at all times
  • Our charming, cheerful, and caring receptionist makes you feel at home

Additionally, here are some tips we have for patients who want a more pleasing experience at the dentist: 

  • Talk to your doctor about your dental anxiety and communicate your emotions to them
  • Come up with a safe word to let your dentist know you’re uncomfortable
  • Distract yourself with music, a fidget spinner, or a stress ball
  • Practice mindfulness before, during, and after your visit
  • Stay open-minded, and don’t let past experiences dictate your future
  • Find a dentist you feel safe and comfortable with
  • Bring a friend or family member that can help ease the nerves

Dental anxiety doesn’t have to hold you back any longer. With the right support system and an uplifting environment, patients can make themselves at home the next time they visit their local dentist. Just think about how happy your teeth are going to be when they get the cleaning and preventive care they deserve!

Healthy Smiles: Making Dental Appointments Fun Again!

Are you overcome with anxiety, worry, nervousness, and/or fear anytime you experience oral symptoms? Do you often avoid visiting your dentist because of fear of the unknown? Are you ready to make going to the dentist fun again? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, then you’ve come to the right place. 

At Healthy Smiles, we understand how stressful the dentist can be – that’s why we’re doing everything we possibly can to break the stigma. We don’t want your appointment to feel like a chore – we want to make it something you look forward to. Feel free to visit us at our Staten Island safe space when you feel ready!