Dental anxiety is the fear or discomfort of going to the dentist. It can range in symptoms and severity. For example, you may feel uncomfortable going to the dentist or calling to make an appointment. Your heart could race, or maybe you might sweat. Regardless of how you feel, it may not affect you going to your appointment.
However, there are patients whose dental anxiety keeps them from going to their dental appointments. At the very least, they may wait a long time between appointments or only go when they are in pain.
Unfortunately, this method can be detrimental to your oral health. Dentists recommend that you make routine dental visits in order to stay healthy. If you make your regular appointments, you are less likely to have severe dental issues. However, not all patients with dental anxiety can force themselves to make their appointments.
If you have dental anxiety, talk to your dentist. They will be able to provide you with a way to make your appointments. From sedation to clarification, your dentist will ensure that you have a safe, comfortable visit.
How to Cope
Dental anxiety is extremely common. In fact, some researchers state that dental anxiety could affect nearly 50%-80% of all adults. That’s nearly everyone! So, you shouldn’t feel any unease or embarrassment. Simply talk to your dentist about your options.
Your dentist can administer several types of sedation depending on your anxiety or dental procedure.
When you think of sedation at the dentist, you may think of laughing gas. That is actually the name for nitrous oxide (NO), a gaseous form of sedation that is administered through a mask or nosepiece. With NO, you will feel calm and relaxed, and it shouldn’t put you to sleep. You will be able to communicate with your dentist under this form of sedation easily. This is good for patients with mild to moderate anxiety.
Oral conscious sedation (OCS) is another sedative that your dentist can give you. Typically, a dentist will give this as a pill, and you may take it before you get to your dentist’s office. This is to ensure that you feel the sedative’s effects before you begin your procedure.
OCS will make you feel sleepy or groggy. It won’t necessarily make you fall asleep, but that is a possibility. Your dentist will still be able to communicate with you. The effects of this sedation last longer than with nitrous oxide, so you will need someone to take you to and from your appointment.
Talk to Your Dentist
Your dentist is one of your best resources for any dental procedure. They will be able to walk you through each step of their process in order to keep you at ease. If you ask, they will explain what they are doing and why, especially if it keeps you calm. They want you to feel safe and comfortable, so make sure that you rely on them if you are afraid.