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While most people consider regular dental appointments routine, many still avoid the dentist entirely due to feeling anxiety over the idea of seeing a dentist. If you haven’t seen the dentist in a while because you feel nervous or anxious, you have more options available than ever before. Keeping up with your oral health is critical for your overall health. Avoiding the dentist can negatively affect many areas of your life, including physical and psychological. Below are tips on how to get over dental anxiety.
How to Get Over Dental Anxiety – Conservative Treatment
- Breathing exercises provide anxiety relief by taking in more oxygen. When anxiety takes hold, our breathing becomes rapid and shallow, resulting in a rise in heart rate and blood pressure. Slow, deliberate, and deep breathing triggers the body’s parasympathetic system to return the body to baseline.
- Meditation offers a few mechanisms for reducing anxiety, with results similar to the breathing exercises mentioned above. In addition, meditation results in deeper breathing, lowered cortisol levels, lower heart rate, and clarity of mind.
- Distraction is another conservative treatment to overcome anxiety. For example, some dental offices have screens on the ceiling so you can watch a movie while they work on you. Other distractions may be listening to music with earbuds, to help block out the sounds.
- Analgesia medication can help ease dental pain that contributes to anxiety. Swelling can affect how well analgesics work for you. Talk to your dentist ahead of time to make sure what you intend to use will not interfere with your treatment plan.
- Bring a supportive friend that can provide a calming presence. Having someone with you during your appointment can provide you with a sense of safety when you’re feeling nervous. Make sure this is okay with your dentist.
- Gradual exposure can be another helpful way to get your dental work taken care of. Children who attend regular dental appointments from a young age have a better chance of avoiding dental anxiety than adults who have never seen the dentist before their first need for dental pain relief. As an adult, you can make small steps leading up to your appointment and treatment. Start by reaching out to a sedation dentist in the Scottsdale, AZ area and arrange a meet-and-greet. Get a feel for the office and talk to the dentist about your concerns. Then, make an appointment for simple teeth cleaning to help develop trust between you and your dentist and work up to more complex procedures.
When Conservative Treatment Isn’t Enough
Conservative treatment for your anxiety may not be enough to overcome your debilitating fear of seeing the dentist. A skilled sedation dentist can offer more advanced options to help you overcome your anxiety symptoms and get you the help you need.
- Oral anxiety medication can be given to patients by a sedation dentistry dentist. Anxiety medication can be helpful for those with moderate anxiety who do not have allergies to medication. Oral anxiety medication is prescribed and taken before your dental appointment, effective at your appointment time. The benefits include ease of use and cost-efficiency compared to other treatment options. Risks may include the medication wearing off before your appointment is complete. This scenario may happen if your body metabolizes medication quicker than typical.
- Conscious sedation, also known as “moderate sedation” or “sleep sedation,” is a drug-induced relaxed and calm state which enables you to continue breathing without intervention. Due to the lowered state of consciousness, and medications that are administered that cause amnesia, it is highly unlikely that you will remember anything from the procedure. Medication for conscious sedation is administered by a professionally trained sedation dentist through an IV so that the dentist can monitor you and control medication levels. Sleep sedation is generally safe, but it is necessary to go over a thorough health history with your dentist before your appointment.
- General anesthesia is an effective method for individuals with debilitating fear about seeing a dentist for help. Like conscious sedation, you are in a medically induced state of unconsciousness. The anesthesiologist will also administer IV medication that causes amnesia. General anesthesia is reserved for patients with debilitating phobias and or extensive medical history and does require an anesthesiologist to be present in addition to your treating dentist.
Anxiety caused by fear of seeing the dentist is nothing to feel embarrassed of. In fact, odontophobia (fear of the dentist) is recognized by the World Health Organization as an actual disease, and they estimate that 15-20% of the population suffers from it. Avoiding dental work and routine cleanings can only make things worse. Suffering from dental problems while avoiding the dentist can mean living in unnecessary pain that can harm your quality of life. With so many technological advancements in the dental industry, procedures have become more accessible, quicker, and less painful. When you work with a sedation dentist, such as Dr. Reem Kidess at PV Smiles, you work with a team of professionals who can help you develop a treatment plan and work with you to determine your level of sedation needs. Dr. Kidess is compassionate and works with a team of equally compassionate professionals.
Check for Qualifications
Not all sedation dentists are the same, and you’ll want to make sure your sedation dentist is trained in the sedation procedures you need. A good sedation dentist will always listen to their patients and work with you to assure you and accommodate your unique needs and offer multiple approaches to handle your fears.
Contact Us at PV Smiles for a Virtual Consultation Today
Don’t suffer another day. We are looking forward to hearing from you. We can help you get over dental anxiety so you can find the relief you’ve been waiting for. Request a virtual consultation online or call us at (480) 991-2290.