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  • Writer's pictureDr. Saumitra Saravana

Dental Anxiety

Let's face it, most patients are not thrilled about going to the Dentist. It is natural for most people to feel anxious about going to the Dentist or going to the physician for a routine physical for that matter. But if your fear is preventing you from getting the care that you need, it can be harmful to you.

Fearful patients delay treatment, which means that easy or conservative treatment options will not work. They wait until their teeth start to bother them, and the treatment has to be done on an emergency basis. The patient might have spent a few sleepless nights under severe dental pain. It is now harder for the Dentist to get this person anesthetized well, procedures tend to be longer and the patient thinks that Dental Treatments are always this way. Their negative perception has now been reinforced.

Patients who are anxious about Dental Treatments also tend to pass on their anxiety to their children. This is not helpful at all as they are now raising a fresh generation of Dental Phobic's.

All this can be avoided. So, what can you do about it?

The first thing you need to do is be upfront about it. There are several ways we can make dental care more comfortable for you at Pearl Family Dental. For most regular patients it is the fear of the unknown that is a big contributor to their anxiety. Our entire team is trained on how to handle patients who are anxious. We take the time to inform you as much as possible about the procedure you are about to undergo so that there are no surprises.

After working with a lot of children we find that the same techniques that we use to help our younger patients relax help our adult patients. This starts by discussing what would make you comfortable. Sometimes it could something simple as a warm blanket to keep you warm. A lot of times we would start with something simple like a check up and possibly a cleaning procedure. Once a patient is able to handle “easy" treatment they can progressively increase the complexity of the procedure. You will be in control throughout the procedure and you can stop the procedure at any time by simply raising your hand. These techniques result in longer treatment times, but they do help our patients confront their fear and break out of it. If you are willing to try it, we are willing to help you out!

Again, not every procedure is as stressful as the other. We find that in our office, Root Canal procedures and Gum Treatment tend to cause the greatest anxiety in our patients and we find that light sedation with a Benzodiazepine or other form of sleeping pill is very effective in helping patients deal with these stressful procedures. While these medications are generally safe, most patients need to be driven in for their appointments and feel pretty groggy afterwards. They will have to take time off work to work off the effects of the medications. Parents who take care of children might need to find a replacement caretaker for their children. There is no charge for anxiety relief at our Dental office and it is completely free.

Now, there are patients who are anxious in the Dental Office and then there are others who are petrified even being near a Dental Office. Severely apprehensive patients might have to be "put under" to complete their needed treatment. These options while safe have a slight higher degree of risk and are generally more expensive.

So to recap:

  • Share your fears. Be upfront about it. There is no shame in being anxious at the Dentist. Even I am scared of the Dentist! If you're tense or anxious, tell us about what gets you scared and we can see how we can help you the best way we can.

  • Get routine dental care. Problems usually start small and grow worse. Routine Checkups will help prevent problems and help us catch it at an early stage. These early treatments are very easy to accomplish and a lot a cheaper as well!

  • Focus on breathing deeply and slowly during dental procedures. Try inhaling your breath for 4 seconds, hold your breath for another 4 seconds and exhaling for another 4 seconds. Nervous patients hold their breath, which decreases oxygen levels and results in greater anxiety.

  • If the sound of the drill bothers you, bring a portable audio player and headset so you can listen to music.

  • Avoid caffeine before a dental appointment.

  • Try to choose a time for your dental visit when you're less likely to be rushed or under pressure. For some people, that means a Saturday or an early-morning appointment.

  • We have convenient weekend and early hours so you can get the care you need at Pearl Family Dental. Call us at 540 370 8504 if you have Dental Anxiety and would like us to help you with your treatment.

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