Dental Anxiety Tips
Honestly, most people don’t like going to the dentist. But some people get anxious. Some even develop a paralyzing fear. Unfortunately, avoiding the dentist can have some negative consequences—instead of a simple cleaning and checkup, you may develop tooth decay and require fillings or even more serious procedures. Here are some tips that might help ease your dental anxiety.
Find a dentist that will work with you.
Some dentists are very patient, caring and gentle; others are more abrupt and have less people skills. Your dentist’s personality certainly doesn’t dictate his dental skill, but if you have dental anxiety, you need to find someone who will be patient and work with you.
Ask around; you’ll soon find that you’re not the only one with dental anxiety. Others can point you to dentists who are more than willing to do everything they can to put you at ease.
Alert your dentist ahead of time.
When you make your appointment, let your dentist know that you have anxiety. He may prescribe some medication for you to take prior to your visit. A sleeping pill can help you rest the night beforehand. Anti-anxiety medication such as Valium, Ativan or Xanax can be taken about an hour before your appointment. These drugs are part of the Benzodiazepine family. They bind with brain receptors and slow down activity in the parts of the brain that generate feelings of anxiety and fear.
You shouldn’t take anti-anxiety medication and then drive; find someone to act as your chauffeur for the appointment.
Communicate with your dentist.
Good communication can go a long way toward easing your anxiety. Once he’s aware of your anxiety issues, you can work together to make you feel more comfortable during your visit.
Your dentist can use many techniques to make you feel more at ease. Anxiety often stems from a fear of the unknown. An approach of telling, showing, then doing can be helpful. The dentist will first tell you about what he needs to do. Then he will show you the equipment he’ll use, and will mime the procedure on a model. Then, he’ll do the procedure, talking through each step along the way.
Ask your dentist about in-office sedation options.
There are two options for sedation during procedures:
1) Inhalation Sedation, or laughing gas depresses your nervous system and can make you feel happy, relaxed and even sleepy. It’s administered through a mask placed over your nose, and the effects quickly dissipate if the amount of gas is reduced or turned off.
2) IV Sedation allows you to remain conscious during dental procedures, but you will experience short-term memory loss around the event. It’s safer than general anesthesia, but you’ll probably feel like you were asleep through most of the exam. If you’re afraid of needles, you’ll receive the IV sedation before the dentist administers numbing injections.