Unfortunately, not all of us enjoy going to the dentist. Sure, we love leaving the office with squeaky clean pearls and the peace of mind that comes with good dental health. But – not so shockingly – nearly seventy-five percent of all adults have some level of fear associated with that routine dentist visit. Some people would just rather take an afternoon off work to do anything else.
While the fear may be irrational (after all, the dentist is your friend and can save you some serious headache in the long run), that doesn’t make it any less real. Being poked and prodded, and all of the weird noises and machines that go along with it, can cause some real anxiety for some patients. But at Mill Dam Dental Care we are especially prepared to help you deal with your anxiety and create a calm, pleasant experience during teeth cleanings and dental work.
Where Does the Anxiety Come From?
Usually dental anxiety is instigated by a traumatic experience in the dental chair, or a series of traumatic experiences. Either the patient has undergone dental work that took an unexpected complicated turn, or they had a dentist as a child or adolescent they found to be intimidating or off-putting in some way. Your dentist is particularly close to your personal bubble, and a bad experience with someone who’s so invasively inspecting or working on the mouth can cause some serious phobia during future visits – even in a perfectly calm, pleasant, new environment.
Beyond past experiences, though, some people just find dental work to be repulsive. The sounds of drills, the feeling of a dental pick against the surface of the teeth, and the feeling of air suction in the mouth can feel just plain weird. For some patients this alone is enough to keep them far, far, far away from the dentist chair and feel anxiety about routine dental cleanings.
Why Is It Important to Overcome Dental Anxiety?
If it’s keeping you from attending your routine dental visits or holding you up from having good dental hygiene habits, you need help overcoming your anxiety now. Poor dental hygiene can lead to things like dementia and pneumonia, and considering how simple it can be to take care of your teeth with a dental routine, there’s no good reason for you to become a statistic of dental hygiene gone wrong.
If you don’t include routine cleanings in your dental routine, you’re more likely to forget about flossing, rinsing, and brushing more often. That bi-annual reminder from the dentist keeps your dental health near the forefront of your mind, and gives you the accountability you need to keep up with your daily habits.
But beyond hindering your dental maintenance, at Mill Dam Dental Care we don’t just want you to come to the dentist and take care of your oral hygiene. We want you to have a positive experience at the dentist, and we take extra measures to make sure you’re comfortable, enjoy your environment, and can overcome whatever anxiety makes you hesitant to schedule and attend those dentist appointments.
How Can the Dentist Help?
Maybe you’ve heard horror stories about the dentist, or worse, maybe you’ve lived those horror stories yourself. Tales of a scary masked person with dental power tools aimed at your face are enough to make anybody think twice about a teeth cleaning! But we assure you, Mill Dam is nothing like those stories. Instead, we take extra care to ensure every single patient is comfortable, no matter what lengths we have to take. Here are some of the tools we use to make sure your experience is positive:
- A friendly attitude: Nothing is worse than a Negative Nancy in your grill. From the moment you walk in the front door to scheduling your next appointment on your way out, every person you encounter in our office will greet you with open arms and a friendly attitude. You’ll never have someone with a bad attitude shoving their hands in your mouth.
- A clean, serene environment: When you have anxiety, nothing makes it worse than a drab, chaotic environment. That’s why when you visit us you’ll find a shiny, clean environment that’s soothing.
- Different forms of sedation dentistry: For those with more extreme anxieties (and for many other instances) we employ appropriate forms of sedation dentistry. We specialize in inhaled minimal sedation, IV sedation, and oral conscious sedation. This will help eliminate anxiety while you’re having dental work completed, so you can learn to move past your fears and instead have a positive dental experience.
How Sedation Dentistry Will Overcome Dental Anxiety
Now that we know exactly what dental anxiety is, where it comes from, and what the dentist can do to help, let’s dive into all the details about the most effective tool against dental anxiety: sedation dentistry. If you’ve exhausted all your own tools for overcoming your anxiety and the idea of the dentist still has you shaking in your boots, you’re more than welcome to pass the buck to the experts and we’ll take extra care to help you choose the right form of sedation for your experience. Sedation can calm your nerves, help you enter a relaxed state of mind, and minimize pain so there’s less to be afraid of.
Before the sedation even begins, you’ll be set up in a comfortable environment surrounded by pleasant things. You’ll have all the pillows and blankets you need for your personal comfort, and you’ll be soothed by the sound of your favorite music. Your dental professional will take great care to create a calm environment and assure you that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Then, once you’ve made yourself comfortable, you sedation will begin followed by whatever routine dental care you’re having completed at the time.
The Types of Dental Sedation for Anxiety
While there are many reasons to choose dental sedation, anxiety is one of the most common. Since so many adults have some kind of anxiety surrounding the dentist’s office, we’re equipped to help you select the level of sedation you need to suit your particular anxieties.
Oral Conscious Sedation
One of the most common misconceptions about sedation dentistry is that you’ll be knocked out cold, and this couldn’t be further from the truth. We typically try to avoid putting patients to sleep, and prefer to choose alternate methods when possible. For patients with a small amount of anxiety, the goal is to produce a drowsy, relaxed state without making the patient sleep. Through oral conscious sedation, the patient is given a pill about half an hour before the dental work begins, and they’ll be able to completely comprehend what is going on around them the whole time while still feeling calm, cool, and collected.
Inhaled Minimal Sedation
Also commonly known as “laughing gas”, inhaled minimal sedation utilizes a mask to administer Nitrous Oxide which promotes a relaxed state. This is the primary selection for most patients because as soon as the mask is removed, the effects of the medication wears off. This allows patients to drive home immediately following a dental appointment with no drowsiness or altered state.
IV sedation has the strongest effect of the sedatives used at Mill Dam Dental Care, and it’s used in the most extreme cases. When a higher level of pain is anticipated, patients often choose IV sedation, and patients with highest levels of anxiety are often recommended to use IV sedation. As its namesake would suggest, IV sedation is administered through an IV and begins working immediately. It puts the patient asleep so they are completely unaware during the dental appointment that anything is happening. However, after having IV sedation patients cannot drive themselves and must have someone on hand to escort and drive them home.
What Can You Do Before the Appointment to Ease Your Anxiety?
These dental sedatives will work wonders for your dental anxiety, but there are also some steps you can take to ease your anxiety before coming into the office. Take some time to complete some of these helpful tasks so that on your way you’re less likely to be nervous about the procedure.
- Visualize a positive experience: Take some time in the days ahead of your appointment picture it going well. Picture all the happy faces you will see ready to greet you. And picture your dental sedatives helping you have a smooth and easy experience.
- Call ahead to confirm how the appointment will progress: If the unknown is causing you stress, take the time to call ahead and confirm exactly what will happen during your appointment. Clarify exactly what happens during a cleaning, what will happen during a dental procedure, or what will be involved in your dental sedative.
- Schedule something peaceful in the hour before your appointment, and a reward after your appointment: Take the time before your appointment to do something that calms you. And make sure to schedule time to treat yourself afterward. You did something that stressed you out, and you did it well!