Few things in life cross gender, generational and socioeconomic lines like the fear of going to the dentist. Sometimes it’s just for a six-month cleaning and check up, but the sounds and smells associated with a dental office can twist a generally stable person into a puddle of fear and anxiety.
Dental health is vital to our overall health so it is imperative to understand the ways to minimize the fear of the chair. Those who suffer from dental fear often find it easier to ignore the routine check-ups and small issues that arise, which possibly could lead to a more serious dental condition.
Many people who have this anxiety may have had a negative experience in the past involving a dentist, a dental assistant or hygienist. However, the good news is although there may be a few dentists who lack the gentle techniques that calm a patient, there are many others who have perfected the art of dentistry and assisted many anxious patients to overcome this fear.
Refer A Friend
Recommendations from friends and family are at the top of the list in finding a competent dentist who can alleviate most fears. That trust is built up over the course of time with repeated and consistent appointments that are pertinent to good oral health. This trust and mutual respect will go a long way with the dentist/patient relationship.
A dentist who can clearly explain procedures and listens to the patient’s concerns is first and foremost. Answering the questions, no matter how minor they may seem at the time, is critical to calming an anxious patient’s nerves. Combine that with an experienced hand performing the various procedures and what once was a dreaded necessity now is viewed in a more positive light.
There will always be specific procedures that will cause the fear to rise up no matter how wonderful the dental professional is. Therefore, many dental facilities offer options to those who cannot face the procedure without this gut-wrenching fear.
Relaxation techniques, soothing music playing in the background or through headphones and even reality goggles are some ways dentists have made the experience more tolerable to the patient.
Nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, is an option that gives the patient a relaxed mood. The nitrous oxide is delivered with oxygen through the nose, much like oxygen delivered in any other situation. The patient is fully awake and responsive, though relaxed.
Oral sedatives taken the day of the appointment can be prescribed to patients who request them. The nature of the sedative will relax the patient enough prior to and during the appointment. It will be necessary to have someone drive the patient to and from the appointment.
General anesthesia usually is a safe option, though there are risks associated with the procedure, as with any surgery performed under general anesthesia. Depending on the procedure and the dental facility, there may be a chance the patient must be hospitalized, which might not be covered under most insurance policies. Specialists in the field of dental anesthesia are available and many will work in the dentist’s office on a case-by-case basis.
No matter what method is chosen to calm the patient, it is imperative the patient take control of the decision and consider all options recommended by their dental professional. Ultimately, the trust between the patient and dentist will strengthen and the fears can be minimized. Dental fear is real and nothing to be ashamed of. Making sure it doesn’t grip the patient into refusal of dental treatments is vital for not only maintaining good dental health, but for overall health.