Many people with dental anxiety may fear the pain that comes with dental treatment, but it turns out that dental anxiety may actually be the source of pain, and controlling dental anxiety may help to control dental pain. Otherwise, anxious patients enter a destructive cycle in which anxiety leads to pain, which reinforces anxiety.
The Relationship between Dental Anxiety and Dental Pain
Researchers trying to determine what factors were most likely associated with dental pain, they gave patients undergoing dental treatment questionnaires about their dental anxiety before the procedure, and then about their pain afterward. They found that three factors were associated with an increased risk of dental pain: undergoing a tooth extraction, having local anesthesia (probably because anesthesia is given when a procedure is expected to hurt), and dental anxiety.
But when they compared these factors to see which had the biggest impact on pain, they found that dental anxiety was the biggest factor, more significant than even having a dental extraction. In fact, people with dental anxiety were nearly six times more likely to experience dental pain than the average.
You Don’t Have to Be Anxious, and Dentistry Doesn’t Have to Hurt
Although this study doesn’t explicitly state that dental anxiety leads to dental pain, the connection is strong. When you are anxious, you tend to clench your jaws, fight your dentist, and focus on your dental treatment in a negative way, all of which may increase your likelihood of experiencing pain associated with treatment.
Fortunately, you can avoid dental anxiety and possibly reduce your discomfort.