Studies show that more than half of the population has some form of dental anxiety. In fact, between 50% and 80% of adults are uncomfortable going to the dentist. So if you have hesitation about visiting the dentist, you are in the majority. Many people avoid going to the dentist if they can. Some only make an appointment if they are in pain. Unfortunately, there are others who won’t go to the dentist no matter what.
Not going to the dentist can have long-term effects on the health of your teeth and body health. People who don’t regularly visit the dentist have a higher risk of developing tooth decay or gum disease. Sometimes, you can still get cavities or gingivitis even with good oral health. It is essential to address dental anxiety to keep your mouth healthy.
How to Treat It?
Since dental anxiety is so common, there are many different ways to treat it. You can try several methods until you find one that works for you.
A popular way to treat dental anxiety is through your dentist. They can offer different types of sedation to help ease your fears.
You may be the most familiar with nitrous oxide or “laughing gas.” It is a gaseous sedative that your dentist delivers through a mask or nosepiece. Unlike other forms of sedation, the effects of this gas begin quickly. As a result, you will feel sleepy and have a sense of ease. Fortunately, laughing gas wears off rapidly, meaning you should be able to drive yourself home after your procedure.
Another form of sedation your dentist can supply is oral sedation. Oral sedation is in pill form that you can take before your procedure. Taking it before your appointment will ensure that you are fully relaxed before your dentist begins. Typically, it takes about an hour for the medication to work, meaning you need someone to drive you to and from your procedure.
Depending on your anxiety, you and your dentist may decide to combine these forms of sedation. Combining nitrous oxide and oral sedation is oral-conscious sedation. It creates a deeper level of sedation.
Finally, there is IV sedation, which is typically reserved for intense procedures or extreme dental anxiety. This is the deepest form of sedation. Once a medical professional delivers it through your bloodstream, you will sleep through your procedure until they reverse the medication.
Connect With Your Dentist
Your dentist is one of your best resources for dental anxiety. Not only can they offer you medications, but they can also talk you through their process. At times, not knowing if there will be pain or what will happen can cause anxiety. To combat this, you should talk to your dentist about your fears.
One request your dentist can fulfill is to tell you what they do before they do it. This means that they will tell you about the process as they move through the procedure. For example, when they switch instruments, they will tell you what they are doing and why. Explanations can go a long way in easing anxiety.