Easing Your Fear of the Dentist
Do you get nervous, even fearful, when it’s time to visit the dentist? Maybe you even experience other more intense symptoms of anxiety, like shortness of breath, upset stomach, weakness, or trembling.
If so, you’re dealing with fear of the dentist, or dental anxiety.
What Is Dental Anxiety?
Dental anxiety describes a person who deals with dental fear that triggers episodes or symptoms of anxiety. More than just a mild fear of the dentist, dental anxiety can make otherwise routine and pain-free dental appointments into traumatic experiences.
It’s also not rare—not even a little bit. According to one peer-reviewed 2014 study published in Medical Principles and Practice, 36% of adults experience dental anxiety, and 12% experience it to an “extreme” degree.
The trouble with dental anxiety is that many patients who deal with it avoid dental care. This becomes a vicious cycle: patients fear dental care and avoid routine visits. Then their dental health degrades so that an eventual visit to the dentist requires more intense (less pleasant) treatments. And those treatments then reinforce the patient’s dental anxiety!
Breaking this cycle is an important step for patients who want to reclaim or maintain their oral health—and who don’t want to face crippling anxiety as they do it.
How to Ease Your Fear of the Dentist
Just like with other forms of anxiety, there is no foolproof method that works for everyone. But using some combination of the tactics below, you can begin to lower your dental anxiety and ease your dental fear.
Talk to Your Dentist Ahead of Time
Many people don’t realize how common dental anxiety is, so they can be afraid to admit that they are dealing with it. But if more than 1/3 of the dentists patients experience dental anxiety, chances are your dentist has seen it before.
If your dentist knows that you’re dealing with anxiety, he or she can take steps to reassure you throughout your dental appointment.
Visit the Office Ahead of Time
Here at Largo Endodontics, we regularly see patients come in days or weeks prior to their appointment to discuss their fears and concerns. You can schedule a consult with your dentist and tour the office. By getting to know the doctor and the office, you can feel more at ease when it’s time for your actual appointment.
Choose from an Array of Comfort Measures
Comfort might not be the first word you think of when you imagine going to the dentist, but with Largo Endodontics, you’ll have an array of comfort measures to choose from. We allow you to listen to music using your own headphones during any procedure. We also offer TVs with headphones to keep your mind focused on something else. You can even ask for a warm, soft blanket to help you relax, or dark glasses to reduce the intensity of overhead lights.
Consider Halcion Oral Sedation
Some dental procedures do cause pain, which is why dentists have relied on local anesthetics for many years. And while anesthetics do mask physical pain, they typically don’t do anything to help patients with their dental anxiety.
One option that can address both physical pain and dental anxiety is Halcion oral sedation. Halcion (triazolam) is an oral sedative that patients take one to two hours before their appointment. Patients remain conscious and awake, but they enter a very relaxed, drowsy state.
Most patients who use Halcion also experience minor, short-term amnesia lasting around two hours. In other words, you probably won’t remember anything about the dental procedure afterward! And you’ll be so physically relaxed before and during the procedure that you won’t care what the dentist is doing.
Be aware that choosing oral sedation means you’ll need someone to drive you to and from your appointment. You’ll also need to disclose any current medications to your dentist to be sure there are no negative interactions.
Keep the End Goal in Mind — Pain-Free Teeth
Lastly, as you work through dental anxiety, it’s important to keep the end goal in mind. Here at Largo Endodontics, we want the same thing that you want — healthy, pain-free teeth. Root canals relieve the pain that many patients are experiencing. And with the right sedative and anesthetic approach, the procedure itself is often pain-free.
The best way to relieve dental anxiety is to relieve dental pain. And the fastest way to do that is to schedule a consultation today.
Ready to find relief from an endodontist that cares about your dental anxiety? Largo Endodontics is here to help.