Emergency Dental Care can be needed at any time and people often panic when they realize that there an emergency is occurring. Knowing what to do and where to go for a dental emergency can be frightening and hard to think about in the moment. Being aware of how to handle a dental emergency and…
How to Manage Your Anxiety About Going to the Dentist
Dental anxiety is a serious issue that affects over 40 million people in the U.S., according to the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. So, why are so many people terrified of dentists? There are many different reasons for this. For some, it is a result of traumatic memories from past dental visits, while others are intimidated by all the unfamiliar equipment.
Those with dental anxiety often find themselves skipping dental appointments because of their anxiety. That means dental issues are not addressed until it develops into a more advanced stage where the pain becomes unbearable. This puts the patient's dental health at risk and significantly increases their dental bills.
Communication with the dentist lowers anxiety
Patients who often find themselves dealing with dental anxiety are advised to communicate their fears to the dentist. When the oral professional is aware of their patient's fears, steps can be taken to make sure the patient feels comfortable during treatments.
The dentist can also talk to the patient about medications that can be used to reduce anxiety.
Things patients can do to reduce anxiety include:
- Talking to their dentist and the staff at the clinic about their fears; the dentist will take extra steps to make the patient comfortable
- Using relaxation techniques to reduce stress and stay calm when at the clinic
- Listening to music that they find relaxing
- Patients should avoid caffeine before their dental appointment, as caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety
- Patients should come up with a signal that lets the dentist know they need a break
- Schedule dental appointments on days with light schedules
- Talk to friends and family members about their anxiety
There are also certain medications that can be used to help reduce dental anxiety. The most popular options are:
1. Nitrous oxide
Commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is rather popular when it comes to sedation dentistry. It is a fast-acting gas that is delivered with a mask that covers the patient's nose. The patient breathes in the gas, and within minutes, the effects of the gas become noticeable. It gives the person a feel-good feeling and eliminates anxiety.
The patient remains conscious during the treatment. Once the procedure is completed, the patient is given oxygen through the mask to neutralize the effects of the laughing gas. It only takes a few minutes for the effects of nitrous oxide to wear off. It is a safe gas that can be used on children as well.
Sedatives like valium can also be used to alleviate dental anxiety. The patient takes the sedative about an hour before their appointment, and it lowers the person's anxiety. The effects of sedatives take longer to wear off, so the patient needs someone else to drive them to and from their appointment.
Contact one of our dentists to learn more about sedative dentistry.
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