Did you know that according to the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, as many as 40 million Americans avoid the dentist due to fear or anxiety? There are many reasons that people feel this way including negative past experiences, fear of pain, loss of control, and even feeling embarrassed. Fortunately, there are different ways that anxious patients are able to overcome their worries. Continue reading to learn some tips for patients who have a fear of the dentist in Park Cities.
Share Your Fears with Your Dental Team
If you are feeling tense or anxious, don’t be afraid to let your dental team know. By telling them about what’s going on, they can best adapt to meet your needs and treat you in a way that makes you feel most comfortable. Your dentist wants to help you have the best experience possible.
Listen to Music
For some, the sound of the dental instruments and equipment only makes things worse. Ask your dentist if you can put in some headphones and listen to your favorite playlist or podcast. By focusing on something else, you may be able to reduce the tension you are feeling during your treatment.
Focus on Your Breathing
This may sound like an obvious one, but many people hold their breath when they are feeling nervous. This decreases your oxygen levels and can make your feeling of panic worse. Breathe slowly in order to reduce your stress levels.
Before your dental appointment, avoiding beverages that contain caffeine is probably a good idea. Instead, have something that is high in protein. This helps to make you feel more calm as opposed to sugary or caffeinated drinks.
Use Hand Signals
At the start of your appointment, agree on some hand signals with your dentist so you can easily communicate while you’re being treated. This gives you an easy way to let them know if you need to say something or want them to stop. Having this empowerment can help you feel more in control during your visit.
Many anxious patients find that sedation dentistry is helpful when it comes to receiving much needed dental care with minimal stress. Here are your options:
- Nitrous Oxide: More commonly known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is administered using a nasal mask. After breathing it in, patients become relaxed, calm, and comfortable so they can be treated while feeling at ease. After the treatment is complete. The effects quickly wear off and patients can go about the rest of the day as normal.
- IV Sedation: For patients who have more severe dental anxiety, IV sedation may be a better option. For this type of sedation, anxiolytic medications are administered from an IV vial or bag and go directly into the bloodstream. This is the most powerful form of dental sedation by far and you likely won’t remember much of your appointment at all. However, you will still remain awake during the treatment. If you’re getting IV sedation, you will need a trusted friend or family member to drive you home from the office.
If you have dental anxiety, that doesn’t mean that should let it get in the way of the essential care you need. With the help of your dentist and some of these tips, you will be back on track towards a healthy smile.
About the Author
Dr. Frank Higginbottom is a well experienced dentist who has been working in the field for more than four decades. He graduated from the Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas. After serving in the United States Army, he opened up his own office in Dallas, TX. Dr. Higginbottom offers sedation dentistry options for patients who are dealing with dental anxiety. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (214) 827-1150.