Dental anxiety or fear affects millions of Americans and prevents many from seeking the oral healthcare they desperately need. Sometimes this fear is the result of a bad experience in the past. Sometimes, it relates to “horror stories” from others. Regardless of the cause, we understand that dental anxiety is a legitimate problem for many. Because we want every person to receive the essential dental care he or she needs, we are covering some important ways to cope with dental anxiety.
In our experience of treating patients with a variety of ages, cultural backgrounds and life experiences, we have learned that there is also a wide variety of the types, causes, and manifestations of dental fear. While some people have a serious phobia of injections, others feel a surge in anxiety when they hear the sound of the dental handpiece (drill).
We have also learned that the important first step in addressing dental anxiety is having a conversation about it. Because there are so many different things that people become anxious or fearful about in the dental office, we need to know what your particular trigger is so that we can address it. In order to give you the best, most customized care, we need our patients to clearly communicate their fears.
The better communication we have, the more we understand. The more we understand, the better equipped we are to care for you!
Know Your Options
Many patients explain that they feel anxiety or fear because they do not really understand what is going on. At Rockland Dental Specialists, we take the time to go over each and every option available to treat your specific dental problem.
We understand that patients need to feel a sense of control over their situations in order to fight anxiety. That is why we see our role as dental consultants, giving you multiple options and leaving the ultimate decision to you. You are in control of your oral healthcare decisions!
The best antidote to anxiety and fear is trust. When you really trust your doctor, you believe that he or she will do what is best for you. This is true in any doctor-patient relationship. If you are not 100% sure that your doctor has the desire and the ability to provide the care you need, you are more likely to suffer from fear over your dental procedure.
We understand that trust takes time, and so we work to build relationships with our patients. We build trust by delivering; we do what we say we will do. We provide excellent, compassionate dental care in a comfortable setting by highly skilled doctors using the most advanced technology. Because we do not expect to have implicit trust from the very first appointment, we simply ask that you give us a chance to earn that trust by proving our skill, compassion and integrity.
The previous tips are wonderful for consciously fighting dental anxiety or fear. But what if you still feel a deep underlying phobia after taking those steps? Then it is time to consider sedation.
With sedation dentistry, you can undergo any dental procedure without the full awareness of what is going on. There are varying levels of sedation for varying levels of experience.
Some patients only need to “take the edge off” without being fully asleep. The best option in cases like this is the use of nitrous oxide, or laughing gas. This mild inhaled medication is not technically a sedative, but instead an anxiolytic (it “kills” anxiety). Some patients do fall asleep when breathing nitrous oxide, but most remain awake and relatively alert. Nitrous oxide produces a state of relaxation in which you are less aware of sensations, like the sounds and feeling of dental treatment. It also makes long dental appointments seem shorter in length. Laughing gas has no hangover effect, so it is a good option for someone with a short dental procedure who prefers to return to work afterward.
True sedation can use both oral medications (pills) and intravenous drugs. With these medications, the patient does sleep through the visit. Both types cause a lingering effect, and patients will sleep most of the day after the visit is complete. Sedation is the right choice for patients who do not want to see, hear, feel or remember anything from their dental procedure.
More Questions on Coping with Dental Anxiety?
To learn which sedation option might work best for your unique situation, call Rockland Dental Specialists today to schedule a consultation with our compassionate doctors. We have helped many anxious and fearful patients receive the dental care they needed!