Dental anxiety is a real problem, but it doesn’t have to keep you from getting the dental care you need. Most dentists want to help their patients feel comfortable and will go out of their way to make sure that happens. By understanding what dental anxiety is and how dentists deal with it, you can feel better prepared for your next dentist appointment.
Dental anxiety is more common than you might think
Dental anxiety is more common than you might think. In fact, the American Dental Association estimates that nearly half of Americans experience some level of dental anxiety. It’s so common that dentists have their own name for it: dental phobia or dentist phobia.
People who suffer from dental anxiety can be hyper aware of even small things in their mouth, like an itch or soreness that feels different from normal. They also tend to be extra sensitive to sounds and smells associated with going to the dentist’s office, which can make them uncomfortable even before treatment begins. Dental phobias can range in severity from mild (your heart races when you think about the appointment) to severe (you avoid getting treatments out of fear).
Dentists are aware that many patients feel anxious when they visit them for care—and they’re committed to helping everyone get through their visits without causing pain or making anyone feel worse than necessary during treatment procedures. Most dentists have special training on how best to deal with nervous patients; however, in some cases a patient may need additional help managing his or her fears before he/she can relax enough for appointments at all
Dental offices have gotten a lot better at making anxious patients feel comfortable
In the past, dental offices were not in the habit of making their patients feel comfortable. To be fair, there was a time when all dentists used to work out of their homes or offices and didn’t have the money or space for comfortable waiting areas. However, as technology advanced and new technologies came around that made it easier for dentists to practice from a dental office rather than just their home or office they became able to afford nicer interior design elements like comfortable chairs and couches.
Still though many people with dental anxiety still find themselves trembling on an unyielding wooden chair wondering if this will be their last day on Earth as they stare at an enormous drill that looks like it could cut through concrete with ease–but what would happen if you had some way to calm yourself down before entering the room? Some examples include:
- A calming music playlist—listen while you get ready in your car (I recommend classical)
- An aromatherapy diffuser—fill with your favorite essential oil blend such as lavender or chamomile
- A warm blanket—for those who tend towards feeling chilly during stressful situations (these can also double as comfy throws!)
What can the dentist do to make you feel better?
If you’re feeling anxious about going to the dentist, there are a few different options available to help you feel more at ease.
The first thing your dentist can do is administer laughing gas (nitrous oxide). This is a type of sedation that makes patients feel relaxed but alert, so it can help reduce anxiety. It’s also used during dental procedures like fillings and cleanings. If you’re comfortable with this option, your dentist may have you breathe from a small mask that stays on your face throughout treatment.
The second option for treatment is local anesthesia, which numbs the area being treated without affecting your overall awareness or consciousness level. This method provides pain relief without altering how aware or awake you feel—and since it doesn’t impair cognitive function in any way, it won’t interfere with any conversation between yourself and your doctor while they work on your teeth! A popular version of local anesthesia is called “lidocaine,” which causes painkilling effects similar to those produced by over-the-counter pills like Advil or aspirin; however, lidocaine has additional benefits because it lasts longer than these drugs do (six hours versus four hours).
The dentist may give you “laughing gas”
Laughing gas is a form of nitrous oxide that has been used in dentistry for more than 200 years. It’s usually administered through a mask placed over your nose, which helps you breathe and relax. Sometimes it can be given in a spray or foam form to help numb the inside of your mouth, too.
Laughing gas works by relaxing muscles in the body and slowing their activity down—including those that control breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and digestion. This makes it easier to tolerate pain during treatment because laughing gas reduces feelings of stress and anxiety that might otherwise make you feel uncomfortable about being at the dentist’s office.
You may feel some lightheadedness or dizziness when using laughing gas because this lessens your ability to control how fast you move around (and where you focus your attention). You might also notice an increase in saliva production while wearing this mask; however, these effects will go away as soon as the mask is removed from over your face after treatment ends!
It’s important to know that your dentist can use a local anesthesia, or numbing shot, to reduce your dental anxiety. The shot is given in the area of the tooth or teeth being worked on and usually lasts for 30 minutes. It may be administered as an injection or gel directly into the gums around the affected area. You should feel very little pain during a procedure with this type of local anesthetic. Some dentists even offer shots in other areas such as the arm or leg; this may help you feel more comfortable when undergoing treatments like fillings and crowns.
If you’re worried about getting injections, ask your dentist if there’s another way to numb yourself before procedures—maybe they can give you a topical cream instead!
Oral sedation is a type of medication that you take before going to the dentist. The drugs make you feel relaxed, so you are not as afraid or stressed out about having dental work done.
Oral sedation can be used for cleanings and procedures like fillings, all on four dental implants, crowns and bridges, but it may not be right for all patients. If your dentist thinks oral sedation will work for you and give you peace of mind during treatment, he or she will discuss the risks and benefits with you.
Oral sedation can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting or dizziness that last until the day after treatment ends (and sometimes longer). Some people also feel sleepy after taking this medicine; if this happens to you when driving home from treatment, let someone else drive instead.
IV conscious sedation
IV conscious sedation is a very safe technique that can be used to help people who are very anxious about going to the dentist. If you have had bad experiences at the dentist, IV conscious sedation may help you feel more comfortable when getting dental treatment.
IV conscious sedation causes complete relaxation of your muscles, which allows your dentist to do any procedure quickly and painlessly. There is no discomfort or physical feeling during the procedure, because you are completely relaxed by this method.
What can you do to help yourself stay calm?
There are several things you can do to help yourself stay calm:
- Deep breathing exercises. These might actually be the best thing for you if your dental anxiety is related to stress or anxiety in general. The act of taking deep breaths helps slow down the heart rate, relaxes muscles and reduces the release of stress hormones in the body. If you’re not sure how to do this, there’s a helpful guide here.
- Distracting yourself with music or television will help keep your mind off of what’s happening during dental work that may cause anxiety. You could also ask your dentist if they have anything else they recommend distracting patients with during procedures (like light boxes).
- Talking about it with your dentist can often help relieve some of those nerves as well! Your dentist will want to know what makes you feel comfortable and relaxed so they know how best to approach treatment with you—they’re not going out of their way just because they think doing so will make them more money (though treating people who aren’t comfortable isn’t exactly good business practice either).
Dentists are very sensitive to dental anxiety and will do everything they can to make you feel better and take care of your teeth.
Dentists are trained to be sensitive to their patients’ needs, which means they’ll do everything they can to make you feel comfortable. If you have dental anxiety, your dentist will treat it like any other issue or ailment. They’ll take the time to explain procedures and work with you until you’re confident that everything is going well. From there, they’ll recommend long-term solutions if needed and provide care at each appointment until all of your concerns are addressed.
Dental anxiety can be a serious problem for many people. But there are treatment options available for those who want to relieve their fear of the dentist’s chair. If you have dental anxiety, don’t be afraid to seek help from your dentist.