Do you fear going to the dentist? While few people look forward to spending time in the dentist chair, WebMD states that 5 to 8 percent of Americans refuse to ever go to the dentist, while 20 percent only go when absolutely necessary.
Your anxiety may be rooted in a bad experience at the dentist as a child. It could also be a side effective of an anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress or substance abuse. Some people have such bad dentist anxiety that just driving past a dental office can cause stress.
Don’t live in fear of what might happen if you chip a tooth, need a cavity filled or have another dental emergency. Learn tips to ease your anxiety so you can maintain a healthy smile with regular dental exams.
Choose the Right Dentist
Not all dentists cater to the fearful. To learn where you can expect a more calming atmosphere, call a few dentists and ask how they help anxious people feel more relaxed and in control. When you choose a dentist, ease your mind by visiting the office before your first appointment. Take in the atmosphere for yourself and talk over your concerns in person.
At Evanson DDS, we encourage you to discuss any fears or anxieties with the office team. We’re here to answer any questions you have and make sure you’re comfortable before you take a seat in the big chair.
Review Options for Pain Control
Not all dentists offer sedation options, so bring this up when talking to various dental offices you’re considering going to. Your options include:
- Local anesthetic: An injection that numbs the area of the mouth being worked on.
- Topical anesthetic: Applied with a cotton swab to numb the area before injecting the local anesthetic.
- Electronic anesthesia: An alternative to local anesthetic. Electrodes on the cheek transmit a numbing electrical current into the jaw, which many patients report is more effective.
- Laser drills: A far less painful option for preparing cavities for filling than conventional mechanical drills.
- Nitrous oxide (laughing gas): One of the most common forms of sedation dentistry, a supplement to other drugs, not a replacement. The gas makes you feel relaxed, even euphoric. The effects wear off quickly after the gas is turned off.
- Intravenous (IV) sedation: Usually reserved for patients having extensive dental procedures. A tranquilizer is injected into a vein in your hand or arm, and while you remain awake, you become deeply relaxed.
- General anesthesia: A sedation technique that puts you completely under. Because of the side effects that can occur from general anesthesia (drop in blood pressure, heartbeat irregularities) this technique is reserved for when other forms of sedation or pain control are insufficient.
Visit the Dentist with a Family Member
It’s not childish to want moral support doing something you’re afraid of. Ask a family member or close friend with no fear of the dentist to accompany you at your appointment.
Seek Distraction in the Dentist Chair
Bring headphones and listen to your favorite music to calm you during treatment. You can also look for a dentist that has a TV in the treatment area so you can watch something to distract you.
Take Steps to Feel More in Control
At Evanson DDS, we take measures to make sure you feel in control about your dental health. We’ll sit down with you and discuss your treatment options. When possible, we give you the choice of having several procedures done all at once or over a series of shorter appointments, depending on what makes you more comfortable.
You can take steps to put yourself in control as well:
- Ask the dentist to explain every stage of each procedure before it begins. Then you’ll know what to expect, which can lower your anxiety.
- If you prefer not to know what’s happening, explain this to the dentist. Then you can sit quietly with your headphones on and eyes closed.
- Discuss a hand signal you can use if you need the dentist to stop for some reason. This puts you in control of the situation. Don’t assume you need to wait until you feel pain to use the signal.
You may be embarrassed about your fears, but dentist anxiety is common and nothing to be ashamed of. The important thing is that you take steps to overcome your fear enough that you feel comfortable going to the dentist for important procedures. To learn how we help anxious patients feel comfortable at our office, please contact Evanson DDS online or call us at (720) 409-0008.Leave a reply →