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Solutions for Dental Anxiety

Solutions for Dental Anxiety

According to some estimates, up to twenty percent of people avoid the dentist due to fear and anxiety. Dental phobias are considered one of the most common types of phobias, affecting millions of people in the United States alone. While dental anxiety can be very problematic for many people, there are ways to cope with this and even overcome this fear. Relaxation techniques, behavioral therapy and sedation dentistry are just a few of the methods commonly used to help people minimize their stress and get more out of their experience at the dentist.

Symptoms of Dental Anxiety

This fear can lead to a number of unpleasant symptoms. The following are just a few of the symptoms commonly experienced by those suffering from dental anxiety.

  • Difficulty sleeping the night before an exam or procedure
  • Panic attacks both before and during the visit
  • Nausea, trouble breathing, rapid heart rate and excessive sweating

Practicing Relaxation Techniques

Many anxiety-sufferers find that learning how to relax before and during a trip to the dentist can be of tremendous help. Some common relaxation strategies include deep breathing, meditation and visualization. Typically, it takes quite a bit of practice before a patient can successfully use these techniques to quell fear.

Behavioral Therapy

In some cases, dental anxiety becomes severe enough that people may seek out psychological treatment. Behavioral therapy helps patients overcome their fear by gradually exposing them to the situations, objects and people that are the source of the anxiety. A patient might start by simply imagining a visit to the dentist and progressively work their way up to an actual dentist appointment.

Sedation Dentistry

There are a number sedation dentistry benefits for patients who suffer severe dental anxiety. For a great many dental patients, the use of anesthetic during exams and procedures is a great way to reduce anxiety. Dentists trained in sedation can utilize a number of different sedation techniques that help patients relax to varying degrees. Nitrous oxide is one common approach, but deeper levels of sedation are also possible. In some cases, general anesthesia is used to keep patients asleep throughout the entire procedure.

While many people experience dental anxiety, there are a number of ways to effectively deal with this fear. Before settling on any one technique, patients should discuss the matter with their dentist in order to determine which approach might be the most beneficial.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is a term that refers to the use of anesthesia during dental procedures such as tooth implants, root canals, and tooth extraction. Dental sedation is often used during procedures that require an extensive amount of time, as well as for patients who exhibit dental phobia or have difficulty controlling their movements (this includes children).

There are four types of sedation that can be used during a dental visit:

  • Nitrous oxide
  • IV sedation
  • Oral sedative
  • General anesthesia

Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia

It is estimated that approximately 30 to 40 million Americans avoid seeing the dentist because of dental anxiety or dental phobia. People with dental anxiety have fears that are often greatly exaggerated. Dental phobia is a more serious condition. People with this condition are terrified and panic-stricken when it comes time to see the dentist. They often avoid the appointment altogether. If they do force themselves to go, they often do not sleep the night before or may become sick in the waiting room.

Am I a Candidate?

You may be a candidate for dental sedation if you exhibit any of the following characteristics:

  • Dental phobia
  • Dental anxiety
  • Difficulty controlling movement from conditions such as cerebral palsy or Parkinson’s disease

Patients who are on other medications should consult with their dentist before taking sedatives. Previous allergic reactions to other drugs should also be reported to the sedation dentist.

If you believe you are a candidate for dental sedation, you may want to contact a sedation dentist for more information.