We understand that not everyone can sit through all dental procedures or even sometimes the numbing process.
Why am I anxious in the dental office?
People are anxious about going to the dentist for different reasons, including worrying about the effectiveness of localized anesthetic and feeling like the dentist is rushed or is neglecting your concerns. Other factors include anticipation of pain, the cost of the procedure, past experiences, and even the sterile smell of the dental office. Interrupting the normal day’s routine to visit the dentist also is a factor in general anxiety.
What does my dentist do to relieve my anxiety?
Your dentist works to reduce your anxiety before you ever step foot in the dental office. This process begins on the phone, while making appointments. Your dentist’s office staff has been trained in caring patient services; and they will inform you of what to expect and answer your questions to ensure your confidence and comfort during your visit.
Once you arrive for your appointment, your dentist has done a lot to ensure that every aspect of your visit is designed to create optimal comfort. He or she has made sure to keep the waiting room neat and clean, and filled it with magazines and dental health information and resources. Some dental offices set aside a small portion of the waiting room as a play area for children. Others offer distractions such as television, music and even virtual reality glasses in the operatory.
An understanding of your dental health and the dental services or treatment that you and your dentist have discussed and decided will help to relieve dental anxiety. Ask questions and request informational materials.
How will my dentist handle my child’s anxiety?
Some children are anxious because they are visiting the dentist’s office for the first time. This experience into the unknown is a common reason for nervousness. The dentist or a member of his or her staff will talk directly with the child to make him or her more comfortable. Ask your dentist to take your child on a tour of the office, explaining some of the equipment along the way. For young children, especially those under three years, a parent or relative may accompany the child throughout the procedure. Older children are encouraged to show independence.
What can I do to relieve dental anxiety?
Knowledge is the greatest defense against anxiety. Avoiding caffeine before a dental appointment can make you less anxious. Eating high-protein foods produces a calming effect, unlike sugary foods.
During the procedure, focus on breathing regularly and slowly. When you are nervous you tend to hold your breath, which decreases oxygen levels and further increases feelings of panic. If you have specific fears, talk to your dentist about them. He or she can go a long way to dispel any negative or frightening images you may have.
If you are seeing a new dentist for the first time, schedule an appointment for a visit. Take the opportunity to ask this dentist a few questions and be sure to address your concerns. You’ll find that dentists who take the time to speak with you about these matters will understand when it comes to addressing your fears.
Topical anesthesia – A numbing medication can be placed on the skin before local anesthesia. Topical anesthesia can also be placed between the tooth and gum before cleaning or periodontal scaling.
Local anesthesia – Computer controlled “wands” are available to minimize the discomfort of local injection.
Analgesia – By breathing nitrous oxide through a nasal mask, the feeling of pain is reduced to the equivalent effect of morphine. Nitrous oxide is called “laughing gas” because it also reduces fear and anxiety. While not as effective as sedation, some find it makes the dental experience almost enjoyable.
Oral sedation – By swallowing certain relaxing and memory blocking medications, many anxious patients will find the ability to not only comfortably “endure” an otherwise fearful experience, they will have little if any memory of the visit.
Intravenous sedation – By placing the sedative medication directly into the bloodstream, the sedation dose can be more closely optimized to the patient’s metabolism and needs. Titration consists of giving small doses of medication until the patient is comfortable or asleep. Currently, only the oral surgeon does IV sedation at our office.
Any and all of the above techniques can be combined with each other as needed for each or our patient’s unique needs. We can even use hypnosis.
Our office is licensed and equipped to sedate and treat:
- Patients that avoid going to the dentist due to anxiety or fear of dental pain or dental procedures.
- Patients that have time constraints and need to have their dental care performed in as few visits as possible.