With today’s modern sedation techniques and a better understanding of the causes and solutions for dental phobia, there is no reason to fear the dentist. As dentists, the thing we fear the most is our patients being in pain or experiencing other challenges due to not visiting the dentist for checkups and treatment. Dentists and dental professionals are caring and compassionate people who got into dentistry to help others. Our primary goal is always your health and comfort, so if you experience dental phobia or fear, we will do everything we can to make visits to the dental clinic easy for you.
If you have dental fear or anxiety, it is very important that you tell the dentist, the dental hygienist, the dental assistant, and any of the other dental clinic staff who you directly interact with (for example, the receptionist or even the financial advisor). Don’t be afraid to tell us you’re uncomfortable! There is no way it’s the first time we’ve heard this and you are not alone. Plus, if we know you might be fearful or nervous, we can pull out all the stops to make sure you’re as comfortable and relaxed as possible.
We also recognize that dental anxiety can be a generalized anxiety about going to the dental clinic, or anxiety about a specific dental procedure or routine. For example, if you’re fairly comfortable at the dentist but feel anxious at the sound of an ultrasonic dental scaler, be sure to let us know so we can attempt to make you more comfortable.
We’re also aware that there’s such thing as dental phobia, that is more generalized and not necessarily rational. No matter your level of anxiety or fear, there are many ways we can put you at ease at our dental clinic and restore a positive relationship with your dental care.
For those with fairly mild dental anxiety, we can offer you creature comforts to distract or insulate you from certain irritations. If the sounds of certain dental procedures bother you, we can offer you earplugs. Or, you can wear headphones and listen to music that you find calming or that will distract you. We can offer you headphones if you do not bring your own. We can also provide sunglasses to protect your eyes from the light the dentist may be using to see inside your mouth.
From breathing exercises to simply talking to you, our dental hygienists and dentists are happy to walk you through calming techniques to guide you away from anxiety and back to calm. We’ll be encouraging when you’re doing well and understanding when you are not. If you’re starting to get uncomfortable, just signal us and we’ll pause the procedure until you’re able to go on.
Sedation is a fantastic option for those who have dental anxiety or fear. And just like there are different level of dental anxiety, there are different levels of sedation to go along with it.
Intravenous or I.V. sedation is the most powerful form of sedation and is sometimes referred to as “being put under”. I.V. sedation is usually administered by an anesthesiologist or a dental professional certified in anesthesiology. With I.V. sedation you will be unconscious during your dental procedure and may have very little memory of it when you wake up. You’ll be groggy afterward, so a friend will need to take you home.
Pill sedation involves taking an oral sedative prior to your visit or procedure. This can be prescribed by the dentist once you have had a conversation about your dental anxiety. You will receive instructions on how soon before your appointment to take your pill so it will be in full effect during your visit. Similarly to I.V., you may be groggy as the sedation wears off, so a friend should help you get home.
Lastly and probably most common is nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” sedation. This involves inhaling a scentless gas that calms and relaxes you. Unlike the more powerful options of I.V. and pill sedation, nitrous oxide sedation only lasts while you are inhaling it. That means that after your procedure is over and the inhalation device has been removed, you’ll be back to normal without any grogginess.
Once again, we have to emphasize that it’s very important for you to tell us if you have dental anxiety. The last thing we would want is to put you in an uncomfortable situation that could have been eased or avoided by having a conversation about your anxiety. We have lots of experience working with anxious patients and we encourage you to think of us as a partner in healing and alleviating your dental anxiety.
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