If you’re afraid of dental visits, you’re not alone. Studies show that over one-third of people are afraid of going to the dentist. Bad previous experiences are typically to blame.
However, it’s critical that people get the dental treatment and preventive care they need to keep teeth and gums healthy. The good news is, your dentist has several ways to help calm your nerves and keep you comfortable during your dental visits.
On-Site Medications and Cutting-Edge Technology
One of the most common techniques that a dentist will choose involves the use of a topical anaesthetic. This is intended to numb the immediate area where any work will be occurring.
Note that gels and small injections may be used, depending on the procedure in question. You will be happy to learn that topical gels will always be applied before any injection takes place, virtually eliminating any pain that you may experience.
You could opt for nitrous oxide (laughing gas). This provides a mild sedating effect and is the most common choice for those with dental phobia. The effects of this gas wear off quickly and unlike the techniques mentioned above, you will be allowed to drive once the visit is completed.
Sedation medication will be delivered intravenously, and patients will remain awake during the procedure. The main point here is that while you are conscious, you will be extremely relaxed.
You may also be provided with a supply of oxygen via a face mask. Generally, an anaesthesiologist is present to monitor your vital signs. Note that this approach is now used more commonly when compared to traditional oral sedatives.
There may also be times when a more in-depth procedure is required or you are extremely nervous. In such situations, a dentist may use general anaesthesia.
This medication will put you to sleep for the duration of the treatment. The anaesthesia is delivered intravenously and due to certain risks (such as rare unexpected drop in blood pressure), this technique may be performed in a hospital setting. General anaesthesia is generally reserved for those who suffer from extreme levels of dental phobia.
Useful Psychological Techniques to Keep in “Mind”
There is little doubt that medical science has come a long way in terms of providing patients with dental phobia a sense of relief. However, we also need to recognise the power of the mind in terms of controlling your fears. We’ll now take a quick look at some coping mechanisms that have been proven to offer tangible results.
While this may appear rather simple at first glance, distracting yourself with pleasant stimuli can often help you to relax. For example, you could choose to bring along a portable music player or watch a movie on your smartphone during the procedure.
Deep Breathing Techniques
Some studies have also found that deep breathing may provide a measure of relief when dealing with chronic and acute discomfort. It is thought that certain hormones known as endorphins play a significant role. Let’s also remember that breathing deeply provides your body with more oxygen, important in terms of feeling refreshed and alert once the procedure has been completed.
Acupuncture and/or Acupressure
Nervous patients could turn to traditional Eastern medicine. Acupuncture and acupressure have been used for millennia to treat pain, to provide a sense of relaxation and even to address acute ailments such as muscle spasm.
Either method causes the body to release pain-killing chemicals known as analgesics (natural anaesthetics). If you are afraid of needles, acupressure will often produce comparable results. Either can be employed immediately before the dental procedure if required.
Talk to Your Dentist About Your Fears
It’s very important that you get the dental care you need. If you have a dental phobia or extreme nervousness about dental visits, make an appointment and discuss your feelings with the dental staff.
Today’s dentists are trained to handle these fears, and take great pride in helping patients like you get this all-important dental care.
Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with being afraid of the dentist. However, allowing this fear to prevent necessary oral treatments can make matters worse. There is little doubt that you will be able to find a realistic solution.