17 Nov Being at Ease – Overcoming Dental Anxiety
If you fear the dentist, you’re not alone. An American survey found that 80 percent of adults fear dentists, with more than half saying that this fear may keep them from seeing a dentist. In another recent Canadian survey, 5.5 percent of respondents reported being ‘very afraid or terrified’ of dental visits, and a further 9.8 percent were ‘somewhat afraid’. People with dental anxiety experience fear about going to see the dentist. This can range from a slight uneasiness to exaggerated worries to a full-blown phobia that leaves the person panic-stricken and preferring to suffer tooth pain and gum disease rather than going to see the dentist. The causes of dental anxiety are multi-faceted, but, fortunately, so are the treatments available to conquer it.
WHAT IS DENTAL ANXIETY?
Women and children report more dental fear than men, and, understandably, people tend to be more afraid of invasive procedures, such as oral surgery, than they are of teeth cleaning or teeth whitening. The particular fears of visiting the dentist vary from person to person. A person may have had a previous painful or bad experience at the dentist, and the sight, smell and tools of the dentist’s office reawakens that fear. The fear may be triggered by the sound of the drill, or the thought of needles in sensitive areas of their mouth. Or it may be the loss of control the person fears most, of sitting in the dentist’s chair and not being able to speak or communicate their anxiety. The person may be embarrassed as to the condition of their teeth (especially if they haven’t been to the dentist in a while), fear of the unknown procedure, or worry that the anesthesia won’t work properly. For many people it is simply the fear of pain that makes them anxious or uncomfortable.
Dental phobia is a more serious condition that leaves people panic-stricken and terrified. People with this condition exhibit avoidance behaviour; that is, they will do everything possible to avoid going to the dentist, only going when forced to do so by extreme pain or discomfort. They may experience trouble sleeping the night before their dental visit or feelings of nervousness that intensify while in the dental office waiting room. Other symptoms include crying or feeling physically ill or hyperventilation at the very thought of visiting the dentist.
TIPS IN CONQUERING DENTAL ANXIETY
Fortunately, there are ways for people to manage dental anxiety and dental phobia and to get them the treatment they need. First off, communication is key, and the key to reducing anxiety. If you’re feeling anxious, tell your dentist and let him or her adapt the treatment to your needs. Go to a dentist who is compassionate and listens to you. During the procedure focus on breathing regularly and slowly during dental procedures. If the sound of the drill bothers you, bring a portable music player and headset so you can listen to music. Avoid caffeine and sugary foods before a dental appointment and eat high-protein foods instead, which produce a calming effect. If lack of control is the problem, ask your dentist to explain what’s happening at every stage of the procedure. This way you can mentally prepare for what’s to come. Another helpful strategy is to establish a signal – such as raising your hand – when you want the dentist to stop, so that you can take a breather, shift your position, or rinse your mouth. As for fear of pain, thanks to the many advances in dentistry made over the years, today’s dental procedures are considerably less painful. In fact, most of the time you won’t feel a thing.
SEDATION AND YOUR OPTIONS
Sedation dentistry offers an excellent alternative for many people. There are several types of sedation such as IV Sedation – not yet offered at our clinic, General Anesthesia, Oral Sedation and Inhalation (Laughing Gas) method; with Oral and Inhalation (Laughing Gas) being the most popular used for in-office dental procedures. Regardless of the method or type of sedation the general premise remains the same: with IV Sedation and General Anesthesia you go to sleep, are blissfully unaware of the procedure, feel no pain, and regain consciousness after the procedure is complete.
General Anesthesia/Hospital Dentistry is an option for the new and existing children of our clinic as well as any special needs clients. Since 1993 Dr. Don has had Hospital Privileges at the Summerland Health Centre/Hospital; treating clients of all ages with great success. General Anesthesia/ Hospital Dentistry is definitely an added bonus to offer this level of service as a treatment alternative to clients when there is decay in all four corners of their mouth to treat, a certain level of fear or anxiety, or any underlying issues/challenges that make dental treatment in a general office setting uncomfortable for the client in any way.
With Oral and Inhalation (Laughing Gas) methods you are completely relaxed and have the ability to fall asleep, you are conscious and aware of the procedure yet relaxed enough not to fuss as your uneasiness quickly turns into enchantment.
Talk to your dentist. If they don’t take your fear/uneasiness/worry/and doubt seriously, find another dentist. The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your concerns with your dentist; you can only root out the fear when you know the cause of it. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, he or she will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious, more comfortable, and happy from start to finish.
At True Dental we specialize in making you feel comfortable. We tailor our approach to your needs. For your convenience and comfort we have private suites, selective music, and offer in office sedation methods and General Anesthesia /Hospital Dentistry. We simply delight in engaging and treating children at a young age in a positive way that gets them excited and looking forward to visiting the dentist… (parents and family members too!)
Contact us to today to book your next worry-free and carefree sedation appointment; because we want to make sure that everything here begins and ends with a smile.