Author: Dr. Reem Kidess | Posted on with 0 comments
Needing dental care when you suffer from dental-related anxiety can feel hopeless. However, unless you can reduce your anxiety about seeing a dentist, your dental problems will only worsen over time. The great news is that you can reduce your anxiety and achieve the best treatment when you seek care at PV Smiles.
Why Do I Feel So Anxious? – Dental Anxiety
Dental anxiety affects millions of Americans. However, dental anxiety looks very different from person to person because it falls on a spectrum. Dental anxiety symptoms can range from general apprehension to a full-blown anxiety attack over the fears that something dreadful will happen to them during their dental appointment or procedure.
The causes behind dental anxiety are as unique as the individual experiencing it. A patient may be able to quickly identify the root cause behind their fears related to dental treatment. At the same time, other patients might be entirely baffled as to why they are feeling so much anxiety. Either way, identifying dental anxiety for what it is can be one of the first steps toward being able to cope.
What Causes Dental Anxiety?
There are many potential causes for feeling anxious about seeing the dentist. Here are some of the possible causes behind dental anxiety:
- Past negative experience(s) at the dentist. A negative experience with a dentist can affect how comfortable a person will feel going back to see the dentist.
- Fear of anesthesia or needles. A general fear of needles (used to administer some anesthesia) can create significant apprehension for getting important procedures done. Others may be afraid that the anesthesia won’t work at all or not enough.
- Loss of control. It takes trust to allow another human to manipulate things in your mouth, especially when using a drill. In addition, the fear of what might happen to their smile can make it difficult for a person to sit still and let the dental team do their job.
- Fear of pain. Noises such as the drill can invoke the fear of experiencing pain at the dentist’s office. However, with advances in technology, it’s rare to experience intense pain.
- They feel embarrassed. It may have been years since their last dental visit or they have never been to a dentist. Some patients may not seek dental care until their pain becomes unbearable. It would be easy to imagine that the dental team may be judging them for not coming in sooner.
- Fear of Enclosed Areas. There’s not a lot of personal space when you have a dentist working in your mouth.
Tips to Reduce Your Anxiety
Just as dental anxiety symptoms fall on a spectrum, so do the coping mechanisms for dealing with anxiety. Here are a few ways to reduce mild dental anxiety and achieve the best treatment.
- Listen to Music. For mild anxiety, try closing your eyes and listening to music on headphones to drown out some loud dental office noises that may trigger anxiety. Music can give your brain something else to focus on and take away stimulus from the environment.
- Prepare a Distraction. Not every procedure will allow for a distraction, but if it does, watching a TV program or movie can also be helpful to distract you.
- Meditation and Slow, Deep Breathing. Meditation and deep breathing will bring more oxygen into the lungs and body, helping to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
- Bring Support. Bring along an encouraging family member or friend.
More than Mild Anxiety? There’s Help for You, Too
Anxiety on the upper tier of the spectrum may require more than the simple tips listed above. If you are suffering from severe anxiety, there’s still help available. Understand that your experience is unique, and your needs are as well. Your dentist may select multiple methods to help reduce your anxiety and achieve the best treatment. Choose a dentist who is specially trained in advanced sedation dentistry techniques. Your dentist should also be empathetic and compassionate.
- Communicate your fears. Start by having an open and honest conversation about your fears and apprehension with your dentist and support team. Be as specific as you can about what you feel and what triggers your fear or anxiety. It’s a good idea to inform them of your past experiences in the dental chair, including what went well and what didn’t go very well. Your dentist may be able to help you sort out your fears, educate you, and work with you to address those fears. Don’t hold back because the chances are good that your sedation dentist has heard similar things from other patients.
- Analgesic Pain Medication. Oral analgesic pain medication to relieve pain can relieve some of the stress imposed by dental procedures. Another common analgesic medication commonly used by dentist offices is nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) administered before or during a dental procedure. Nitrous oxide can also help relieve anxiety.
- Oral Anxiety Medication. Oral medication can be prescribed by sedation dentists that help reduce anxiety. Oral anxiety medication is taken before your appointment so that they take effect by the time of your appointment or procedure. Oral medication can be a very effective and low-invasive way to reduce anxiety for some individuals. One of the downsides to oral medication is that the medication can not be titrated easily and can sometimes wear off too soon due to the different ways people metabolize medication. Your dentist may recommend a secondary method of treatment to supplement.
- IV Moderate Conscious Sedation up to General Anesthesia. General anesthesia can be used in a dental setting, but only if your dentist has specialized training. IV moderate conscious sedation or General anesthesia are usually given as an IV. Your dentist will be able to control the intake of medication very quickly. A specially trained sedation dentist will monitor your vitals closely and know what to look for. Unlike oral medication, IV sedation is very controlled and consistent.
Achieve the Best Treatment
Don’t let your anxiety and fears prevent you from achieving the best treatment and smile. Dental anxiety is a natural phenomenon, but thankfully there are many more options than there have ever been before. Whether you have mild anxiety or severe, it’s important to find a dentist where you feel comfortable in the office environment. Your dentist will help you compassionately address your fears of being at the dentist or undergoing treatment.
We hope you feel calm and comfortable from the time you walk through the door at PV Smiles until you achieve the best treatment and smile of your dreams. Dr. Reem Kidess has spent many years dedicated to becoming one of the most capable and qualified sedation dentists in Arizona. She is certified to treat patients experiencing anxiety on all levels; and has advanced training in sedation techniques which makes her a brilliant choice for your next sedation dentist in Paradise Valley, Scottsdale and Phoenix, AZ. Achieve the best treatment when you contact PV Smiles today!