Does the idea of undergoing dental work cause fear or even panic for you? If so, you’re experiencing dental anxiety. You’re not alone: Many people suffer dental anxiety, and some even suffer from a phobia of seeing the dentist.
Seeing the dentist regularly is important, even for those with dental anxiety. Skipping cleanings or avoiding treatments because of anxiety often leads to worsening problems, further exacerbate the anxiety. It’s crucial that you avoid getting caught in this vicious cycle. Here are our top three tips for overcoming dental anxiety.
Practice Deep Breathing or Mindfulness
If you experience anxiety in any other area of life, you probably already know how helpful mindfulness and deep breathing can be. These techniques can be just as effective in the dentist’s chair! If you’re not yet familiar with deep breathing techniques, here’s a crash course:
- Exhale slowly until you feel just about depleted of air.
- Inhale slowly, perhaps over the count of 7 or 8.
- Pause briefly.
It sounds too simple to help, but the truth is most of us don’t breathe very well when we aren’t thinking about it. Deep breathing can slow a racing pulse and calm a racing mind. Here’s more on deep breathing from an anxiety expert.
For Mild Anxiety: Calm Yourself With Food
If your dental anxiety is mild, you might try some food-related remedies before your next visit. Many musicians swear by eating a banana before a concert to reduce stage fright. Evidence on bananas is a bit anecdotal, but the idea is that the potassium in bananas may have a similar anxiety-reducing effect to beta blockers. The tryptophan in bananas may also relieve anxiety and promote relaxation. There’s some evidence as well that chamomile extract and several other foods can also lessen anxiety symptoms if properly consumed.
Try Sedation Dentistry
If your dental anxiety is severe or if the previous tactics don’t work, it’s time to consider sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry is a common method that bypasses anxiety completely by sedating the patient. If you choose sedation dentistry, your dental experience will be extremely similar to non-sedation dentistry. The two big differences are these: First, you’ll need someone to accompany you to the visit and drive you home when it’s over. Second, you’ll be minimally aware of your procedure and (depending on the type of sedation) may not remember it once it’s over. As soon as the sedation kicks in, your worries about the procedure will dissolve. You’ll regain awareness gently when the procedure is done.
Types of Sedation Dentistry
At Corson Dentistry, we offer three types of dental sedation: traditional dental sedation, oral sedation, and IV sedation. Read on to learn more about these techniques so you can decide which is right for you.
Traditional Dental Sedation
Traditional dental sedation involves the use of nitrous oxide (often called laughing gas). The gas leaves patients conscious but euphoric and generally unable to feel pain. It starts working quickly and wears off quickly when the procedure is done.
Patients who choose oral sedation take a sedative in pill form, which greatly relaxes the patient and reduces the experience of pain. Patients are extremely relaxed but conscious during the procedure.
IV sedation is the next step up. It’s administered intravenously and puts the user into a state called conscious sedation. It’s not general anesthesia: with IV sedation the patient remains semi-conscious, but relaxed and oblivious to pain.
These tips should help you combat dental anxiety when it’s time for your next visit. For more information, contact Corson Dentistry