Tips for Relieving Dental Anxiety

Author: Dr. Reem Kidess | Posted on with 0 comments

According to this study, approximately 36% of people experience dental anxiety or dental fear, while 12% experience an extreme form of dental fear. Combining these two would be roughly 48% (close to half) of the population. Statistics may vary slightly depending on the studies out there, but it’s a safe bet that you or someone you know has experienced anxiety about seeing the dentist. We’ve compiled a list of helpful tips for relieving dental stress.

What Are the Symptoms of Dental Anxiety?

Dental anxiety is more than just uneasiness about your appointment with the dentist. Dental anxiety may produce physiological symptoms and may give you significant hesitation to even attend the meeting. Common symptoms may include profuse sweating, uncontrollable crying, low blood pressure, the feeling like you’re going to pass out, a panic attack, and rapid heartbeat (palpitations).

What Causes Dental Fears and Anxiety?

Try to address the source of your fears and anxiety and understand where they come from—for mild anxiety or fears, understanding the “why” may help you have a meaningful conversation with your dentist. Sometimes talking through your fears and learning new information can be all you need to motivate you past your fears to get your routine cleanings and check-ups.

Some common sources of dental fear and anxiety can be an individual’s history of diagnosed generalized anxiety disorder, trust issues, fear of losing control, or fear of experiencing pain if the anesthesia doesn’t work or has side effects. Prior traumatic experiences at the dentist’s office or something similar and a general fear of needles and drilling are two other potential sources of dental anxiety. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. The truth is that dental fear can be very complex and varies person-to-person.

For others, identifying the source of dental fear and anxiety may not be so simple, and even an understanding of your fears might not be enough to overcome them. But, don’t worry; you are not alone, and there are modern solutions that can help.

Tips for Relieving Dental Anxiety – Self Management

Many of the following exercises may help someone with mild to moderate dental fears and anxiety, but keep in mind that just as each person is unique, so will their methods for anxiety management.

  • Distractions. Distractions like music, tv, and movies can help reduce your brain’s attention to the unpleasant procedure. Music, specifically, can affect brain waves and has the potential to distract as well as alleviate pain and anxiety in a state of deep relaxation.
  • Bring a friend or family member for support. If your dental office allows it, bring a supportive friend or family member with you. Sometimes having someone there with you can sometimes help calm nerves.
  • Meditation and muscle relaxation. The elements necessary to achieve a relaxed response include a quiet atmosphere, relaxed muscles, and focusing away from everyday thought processes while redirecting that attention on positive and repetitive mental stimuli like breathing or a word or phrase.
  • Yoga breathing exercises. In this study, yoga breathing exercises were beneficial for those suffering from General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Learning yoga breathing exercises can help manage anxiety by stabilizing the autonomic and stress response system and activating the limbic system by increasing the releases of calming and bonding hormones prolactin and oxytocin, among other benefits.
  • Guided imagery. Guided imagery is a way to teach patients to harness mental images of calming experiences to help consciously guide their minds into a state of relaxation to relieve anxiety. This technique can be achieved through a trained dentist or audio recordings.
  • Personal therapy. Sometimes working through emotional trauma can help ease the anxiety surrounding seeing the dentist.
  • Hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is often a misunderstood technique. A hypnotherapist uses “suggestions” to help influence the patient’s perceptions, the way that they process thoughts, and general behavior. For example, a trained hypnotherapist may be able to help certain patients with dental anxiety.

Sedation Options with a Paradise Valley Sedation Dentist

The last tip is to seek a specially trained and certified sedation dentist to work out a treatment plan unique to your circumstances. An excellent sedation dentist will have multiple options available for their patients and may choose to use a combination of them. Your sedation dentist should evaluate each patient on a case-by-case basis to understand the dynamics and offer the best treatment possible. They will also go over an extensive health history to ensure that you are safe while receiving sedation dentistry services. 

Here are some of the methods that are used:

  • Laughing gas (Inhalation Sedation). Also known as nitrous oxide, it acts as an aid for relaxation. Nitrous oxide is an analgesic with a sedative effect and promotes muscle relaxation. Discuss a history with your dentist to ensure this is an appropriate treatment. 
  • Oral anxiety medication. Oral anxiety medication can be a good fit for patients who want something less invasive and who will tolerate oral medication. However, the downfall of oral anxiety medication is that not everyone metabolizes them the same, and a patient who is getting extensive treatment runs the risk of the medication losing effect. For this reason, oral anxiety medication may be used in combination with one or more of the other treatment options.
  • Conscious sedation/IV sedation. Conscious sedation, or IV sedation, requires training beyond what the average dentist needs to take. You should only receive IV sedation from a dentist who has been certified in their training. IV sedation is administered through a subdermal IV while the patient is still conscious. Even though “sleep dentistry” is common, you’re not asleep during your procedure but in a very relaxed consciousness. Often patients will not recall anything that happened during the process when they come out of it. The dentist will monitor your vitals and has the training to identify anything that might be “off,” so you’re always kept safe.

Sedation Dentistry for Severe Anxiety and Dental Fears

Are you looking for dental sedation options in the Scottsdale/Paradise Valley area? PV Smiles has you covered. Dr. Reem offers IV sedation, oral anxiety medication, and nitrous oxide for patients. Here at PV Smiles, we want you to feel comfortable from the first moment you contact us until you walk out of the office with your procedure complete. Dr. Kidess  and her support staff offer compassionate and empathetic care with a genuine listening ear to help you in relieving your dental anxiety.

Are you ready to see what sedation dentistry can do for you? Then, contact us today to schedule your virtual consultation.

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