In October, you might get spooked by ghosts, zombies, and scary clowns. The rest of the year, public speaking or heights may make you nervous. We hope dental visits aren’t on your list of things that create anxiety. It’s important that you don’t fear the dentist, since it can prevent you from getting the care you need to keep your smile healthy.
Many people do experience dental fear, unfortunately. It can develop from an earlier negative experience at the dentist, feeling out of control, embarrassment about your teeth, or a sensitive gag reflex. At our office, we’re happy to help you feel more comfortable and in control at your next dental appointment.
Communication Is Key to Easing Dental Fear
The most important thing is to talk to us. Let us know if you have anxiety. We can make accommodations to help you relax. For instance, we can give you breaks during longer procedures so you can rest and regroup. We can also:
- Explain your treatment options and answer all your questions. You’ll understand the reasoning behind our recommendations.
- Give you a pillow and blanket to help you feel more relaxed.
- Let you watch TV while we work for an entertaining diversion.
- Schedule your appointment at a time when our office is quiet. We’re open as early as 7 a.m. and as late as 6 p.m.
After your appointment, we encourage you to tell us what worked and what didn’t, so we can continue to improve your experience. Over time, it will get easier to sit in the dental chair as you build trust with our team.
Stop the Stress With Dental Sedation
Sedation dentistry can help take the stress out of your dental visits. We offer two forms of sedation: nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and intravenous (IV) sedation. Here’s an overview of each and how to decide which may be best for you.
Nitrous Oxide Sedation
Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas or happy gas, is a sedation method that involves inhaling the gas through a mask that fits over your nose. As you breathe it in, you’ll experience a relaxed, calm feeling throughout your body. You’ll remain awake and able to respond during the procedure, but generally feel less anxious, distressed, or aware of pain.
Nitrous oxide works quickly and wears off shortly after the mask is removed at the end of the appointment. While it is less powerful than IV sedation, it has fewer side effects. We often recommend it for cleanings, fillings, or other short and minimally invasive procedures. It may not be strong enough sedation for more extensive dental work. It is safe for children above the age of 5, though pregnant women should avoid it.
IV sedation delivers sedative medication directly into your bloodstream through an intravenous line (IV) in your arm or hand. It works quickly to induce a deeper state of relaxation and sedation than nitrous oxide. While under IV sedation, you will be in a trancelike state. Your breathing and heart rate are slowed, and you likely won’t remember much about the procedure afterward.
The effects of IV sedation last for a few hours after the appointment while the medication leaves your system. Though not common, possible side effects can include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and dizziness. You won’t be able to drive for several hours, so you’ll need to arrange a ride home.
IV sedation is typically used for more extensive or invasive dental procedures like multiple extractions, root canals, dental implants or oral surgery. It allows your dental team to complete more work in a single visit.
We’ll determine which type of sedation may be appropriate for you based on your health history, procedure, and comfort level. For mild anxiety and basic dental work, nitrous oxide is likely sufficient. IV sedation allows for more extensive treatment and is effective if you have more serious dental fear.
The good news is, with some relaxation and sedation options, your next trip to the dentist may be more far comfortable than you expect! With each visit, it will get easier to overcome your anxiety.