4 Ways Your General Dentist Alleviates Dental Anxiety
The American Dental Association recommends visiting your local dental office at least once every six months for a dental exam and teeth cleaning. However, some people avoid these regular dental visits because they fear going to the dentist and statistics state that as many as 9-20% of Americans avoid the dentist altogether. Dental anxiety is a real problem for patients and it can also be an obstacle to receiving the proper care.
Not receiving the proper preventative or restorative dental care can unfortunately cause dental problems to progress to the point where costly and difficult procedures are needed. For this reason, many general dentists are implementing an anxiety-free approach to dentistry so that their patients can receive the dental care they need in a comfortable environment. Here are four different ways that your general dentist alleviates dental anxiety:
One of the most predominant reasons people have dental anxiety is because they fear pain and believe that all dental treatment is painful. While this may have been an unfortunate truth in the past, modern dentistry is far more comfortable. Nowadays, dentists use dental anesthetics to block the nerve signals responsible for pain. By blocking these signals, the area receiving treatment remains numb and unresponsive to stimuli. This ultimately means that the entire procedure can be performed and completed without you feeling a thing. Although not all procedures require dental anesthetics, you can always request that your dentist uses them to make your experience more pleasant.
However, dental anxiety can also arise from other things, such as the sound of the dental drill. In these cases, mild or moderate sedation with nitrous oxide may be beneficial. Nitrous oxide, sometimes referred to as laughing gas, is an inhaled sedative that produces feelings of relaxation and euphoria while also keeping you awake, aware, and responsive. One of the main benefits of nitrous oxide is that it is only effective when it is being inhaled and its effects will wear off as soon as it is no longer inhaled. This ultimately means that you can drive yourself home and return to your normal routine immediately after your procedure.
For individuals who want a heavier level of sedation, oral sedation may be used. Oral sedation is a sleeping pill that is taken the morning of and sometimes the night before your scheduled procedure. You will also be asked to fast for about six hours prior to your appointment time. Oral sedation offers a deeper level of sedation than nitrous oxide and may even put you in a light sleep during the procedure. The effects of oral sedation also last longer, meaning that you will need someone to drive you to and from your procedure.
Intravenous (IV) sedation is supplied through the vein and offers the deepest level of sedation that is fast acting. When using IV sedation during a dental procedure, you will need to fast for at least 8 hours prior to your scheduled procedure to avoid problems with nausea. With conscious IV sedation, you will be conscious, however you may drift in and out of a twilight sleep. During your procedure, you will be completely unaware of what is happening around you and will likely have no memory of the procedure. After the procedure, you will need someone to drive you home and you will need to take it easy for the rest of the day.