Dental anxiety is a very real struggle for many adults. Some people experience anxiety because of a previous negative experience. Others are anxious about the potential for pain that comes with some types of dental procedures. There are people who experience anxiety at the thought of going to an unfamiliar place. Whatever the reason behind your dental anxiety, there are steps you can take to reduce the symptoms so you can get proper dental care.
Familiarize yourself with the dentist and office
Going to an unfamiliar place and meeting new people can be anxiety provoking for just about anyone. If you already have some anxiety around going to the dentist, it can feel impossible to make yourself show up for an appointment at a dentist you have not been to in the past. If your lack of familiarity with the dentist, staff, and office are impacting your willingness to go to your appointment it may help to visit the office before the appointment. There will be less pressure if you take a tour of the office, meet the staff and your dentist on a day when you do not have an appointment. You can get familiar with the setting and when it is time for your appointment you will have an idea of what to expect.
Consider Nitrous Oxide
Nitrous Oxide is a sedative commonly used in dental offices to help patients relax. It is inhaled and will allow you to relax without putting you to sleep. For people who feel mild anxiety at the thought of going to the dentist, nitrous oxide may be enough to take the edge off of that anxiety. It is common to have some anxiety when you go in for a potentially painful dental procedure. Nitrous oxide can allow you to relax and help the experience to go much more smoothly.
Learn about IV Sedation Anesthesia
Another option to help you deal with your dental anxiety is IV sedation anesthesia. This type of anesthesia is administered intravenously by an anesthesiologist. The level of anesthesia you receive will allow you enough awareness to respond to simple commands but not enough to feel anxious about the dental work you receive. Patients who have severe anxiety often benefit significantly from using IV sedation anesthesia. It is also a great option for patients who need to have an extensive amount of dental work completed.
The anxiety you feel about going to the dentist does not have to prevent you from getting proper dental care. You can apply strategies such as familiarizing yourself with the office ahead of time to reduce your anxiety. Sedative options like nitrous oxide and IV sedation anesthesia can also help patients with varying levels of dental anxiety. If you are struggling with the thought of going to the dentist, schedule a time to talk with someone who regularly works with fearful patients. A meeting where you can talk freely about your anxieties will help you get a true understanding of your options.
Peter J Samuels DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.