Did you have a painful or frightening experience at the dentist as a child? Or perhaps your parents used the dentist as a deterrent “if you eat all that Halloween candy, you’ll have to visit the dentist!” Things like that are most often to blame for a fear of the dentist as an adult. And while many people are afraid of the dentist, dental techniques and technology have improved to such an extent that there’s no reason to fear the dentist anymore! Here are some ways you can cope with dental anxiety or fear.
Consider the new dental tools
Years ago, dentists would use a needle for an injection, then sterilize the needle and reuse it with another patient. This practice was totally safe, however over time the needles would become duller, resulting in more painful injections. Nowadays, dentists use much smaller, thinner, disposable needles. And the method has been improved in order to ease the pain of the injection. There are also many new medications that can relieve pain and anxiety. There are topical gels and patches that are anaesthetic, as well as nitrous oxide, which is used to relax patients. Even conscious sedation – which uses an IV for pain medication but leaves you awake!
You can also alleviate dental anxiety by distracting yourself. Most dentists will allow you to wear headphones, so you can listen to music, a podcast, a movie, or an audiobook that you enjoy. Some dentists have TVs on the ceiling, so you can watch TV while the dentist works on your teeth. Virtual reality is currently being explored as an option for dental anxiety relief as well. You can also use relaxation breathing techniques to help yourself remain calm. Certain essential oils have calming effects as well.
Remember your dentist is there to help
All dentists have experience with dental anxiety, and many are very understanding and willing to help you with it! Keep in mind, your dentist is there to help you. You may find that establishing a rapport with your dentist, or having him explain the procedure to you can allay your fears a great deal. You can also set up a signal, like raising your hand, that indicates to your dentist that he needs to stop immediately. Even if you don’t use it, it gives you a modicum of control over the situation, which can ease your anxiety.
Dr. Chauvin has lots of experience with anxious patients, and is happy to help you work through your dental anxiety. Want to schedule an appointment? Give us a call!