How to Conquer Dental Anxiety
Fear of the dentist is not something to be ashamed of. Many people have dental anxiety; in fact, dentists are well aware of this, and that is why they provide assistance to patients who have this common problem. There are many ways to conquer anxiety before and during dental appointments, from relaxation techniques and mild anxiety medications to moderate sedation.
At Alabama Family Dentistry in Birmingham, we want you to be comfortable every time you come to see us. The first step in overcoming dental anxiety is to open up and talk to us about it. When you do that, we can help you to relax with any of several techniques that are proven to work. For some people, simple relaxation techniques like breathing exercises can help, but for others, mild anxiety medications are a better option. Mild sedation is available for even routine exams, and it usually comes in the form of an oral medication. With mild sedation you are fully awake and alert during your appointment, but relaxed.
For many dental procedures, moderate sedation is suitable. The most common method of moderate sedation is nitrous oxide or laughing gas. You breathe this through a mask that is placed over your face. The effect of the gas is to make you feel very relaxed and perhaps a little lightheaded, but you will not fall asleep. The best thing about nitrous oxide sedation is that although it is very effective, it wears off quickly. You will feel completely normal by the time you are leaving the office and will be able to drive yourself home.
Deep sedation is reserved for surgical procedures or procedures that are very invasive. Deep sedation is administered by a needle and puts you to sleep completely. Usually this method is used for procedures that would be painful if you were awake.
Fear of pain is one of the primary reasons for dental anxiety. Although mild and moderate sedation methods don’t stop pain, often imagined pain is far worse than any actual pain felt during most dental procedures. Mild and moderate sedation can ease your nervousness, while taking pain medications prior to a procedure can prevent minor pain or discomfort that may arise. You will never be expected to undergo a truly painful procedure without general anesthetic to put you to sleep. For procedures that are known to be painless or only mildly uncomfortable, you can choose milder sedation and add oral pain medication to make the procedure more comfortable.
The worst thing that dental fear or anxiety does is to prevent people from seeing the dentist. If you don’t see the dentist on a regular basis, you may wind up with serious oral health problems that will require the very kind of invasive procedures that you are trying to avoid. Call us at Alabama Family Dentistry to talk about how we can make your visits to us comfortable and anxiety-free. We have four locations in the Birmingham area to serve you.