Dental Anxiety

Are you scared of going to the dentist and enduring painful procedures?  You’re not alone!  Many people suffer from dental anxiety.  As a result, they may put off going to the dentist for long periods of time, because of their fear.  This avoidance can lead to larger dental problems such as cavities, gum infections, or the need for root canals and crowns.  Unfortunately, procedures for those issues can cause even more dental anxiety, causing more avoidance in the future.  You don’t have to be scared to go to the dentist!  With a few coping techniques, you can turn a potentially nerve-wracking visit into a “no big deal” experience.

When you start to feel dental anxiety, stop and make a list of what factors are causing you to feel fear.  When you go into the dentist, discuss this list with your practitioner and ask for their advice in dealing with your fears.  Often, they can take just a little more time to explain both problems and procedures to you in such a way as to ease your fears.  This can be a great coping technique – the more you know, the more comfortable you will feel!

Another great coping technique is distraction.  Many dentist offices have started offering a variety of forms of distraction to help patients concentrate on something other than their ongoing dental procedures.  These distraction techniques can include movies and music.  Some dentists mount TVs in a location where patients can easily watch while being worked on.  Others provide headsets for patients to wear to listen to soothing music.  One of the biggest causes of fear in the dentist’s office is the sound of the drill – when that sound is blocked out, dental anxiety can be reduced.  If your dentist does not provide these types of distractions, you can bring your own.  Simply bring along a portable CD or MP3 player and listen to it with your favorite music to lull you into relaxation.

Other coping techniques can be administered by your dentist, including laughing gas (nitrous oxide) or anesthesia.  Nitrous oxide, used in small doses, can help you to physically relax, which will help your dental anxiety to dissipate.  For more extreme cases and extreme procedures, general anesthesia may be used, allowing you to sleep through your procedure instead of being awake and tense.  Both of these methods must be used sparingly, but are available for extreme cases in order to accomplish necessary work without undue stress caused to you, the patient.