Many of us find that even the idea of going to the dentist is stressful and anxiety producing. Today’s dental techniques, such as sedation dentistry, now offer patients a relaxed way to experience dental care. Creating new, positive memories of easy procedures can change the way your mind and body reacts to a visit to the dentist.
What is Dental Anxiety?
Up to 20 percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of fear.* There are many reasons why we develop this anxiety. Our culture freely associates dental procedures with pain and suffering in everything from cartoons to movies to jokes and stories told around the dinner table. So who wouldn’t have some stress when facing the prospect of pain!
Other reasons for dental stress that have been researched include:
* Memories of past unpleasant experiences at the dentist
* Fear of dental injections
* Fear that the anesthesia will not be enough to prevent pain
* Fear that the anesthesia will have side effects such as dizziness, numbness and feeling faint
* Embarrassment about having allowed dental problems “get to that point”
* Expectations that the cost of dental procedures will be significant
* Stress in anticipation of trying to communicate dental issues clearly to the dentist
Keys to Reducing Dental Anxiety
All of the major publications agree that the first step in reducing the stress of any dental appointment is clear communication with the dentist. If you are anxious about the upcoming procedure, tell your dentist about it. This gives the dentist the opportunity to adapt the treatment to one that can lower your stress or pain. The ADA (American Dental Association) also recommends setting up a hand signal with the dentist so that you can communicate pain or issues during the procedure.
To further manage stress, close your eyes and breathe deeply and regularly. Most dental offices also provide options such as headphones, earplugs and music to help patients relax.
Dental Treatments Aimed at Reducing Dental Stress
In addition to your own relaxation and communication techniques, the dentist may offer treatment options that will help reduce stress. For example, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) has been used for many years in dentistry. The gas helps you relax a little, and there is typically no recovery period or grogginess afterwards.
More recently, sedation dentistry has expanded to include the use of oral and IV medications to relax patients during procedures. It can be used at various levels and for all types of procedures, from teeth cleaning to major surgery. Typically a sedative pill is taken about an hour before the procedure. You
may be awake but drowsy, or fall asleep during the dental work. This type of medication is not as deep or intense as general anesthesia, but will require that the patient have a ride home afterwards. For some surgical procedures, general anesthesia will still be required.
At Whitmore Dental, we offer a variety of relaxation and sedation dentistry options to take the stress out of dental treatment. Contact us for more information. *Source WebMD