Whether you have a dread of drilling or a fear of fillings, if you suffer from dental fear you are not alone! As many as 40 million Americans share your anxiety, with some 4 to 8 million of these so fearful that they avoid dental visits all together.
But dodging dental visits only makes things worse. Avoiding the dentist leads to declining oral health and the need for more involved dental treatment. This, in turn, spawns even greater fear and anxiety. Thus the vicious cycle of anxiety and avoidance perpetuates.
The degree and types of fear can range from minor anxiety to various forms of psychiatric disorders such as Dentophobia (a generalized, inordinate fear of dental treatment), Aichmophobia (a pathological fear of sharp objects, in general), or Trypanophobia (the extreme or irrational fear of needles, specifically). For others, their fear may be triggered by the sights, sounds, or smells of the dental office, while some may even fear the confines of the dental chair.
Regardless of its form or ferocity, it’s not enough to say, “Get over it!” According to the Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson, William Kuttler, DDS, FAGD, “Today’s dentists recognize dental anxiety is a real condition. Helping patients overcome their fear of visiting the dentist has become just as important as mastering the latest clinical technique.”
Through the skilled use of sedation, dentists can manage both your fear and your pain. Local anesthesia, administered topically, eliminates all sensation at the site of treatment. For many, it’s all that’s needed for the patient to enjoy a relaxed and pain free experience. For those with mild to moderate anxiety, oral sedation and/or nitrous oxide (a.k.a., giggle gas) can be used to relax the patient without impairing any normal bodily functions. While they may experience some minor degree of amnesia, they remain ambulatory and able to respond and interact normally.
For patients with heightened anxiety, conscious IV sedation can keep them relaxed and pain free without inhibiting any normal bodily functions. Conscious IV sedation affords the dentist the ability to control the optimal degree of sedation throughout the procedure, as needed, to ensure the patient’s comfort and ease. But remember—the administration of IV sedation requires special training and certification. Placing your care in the hands of a fully qualified practitioner will both bolster your confidence and ease your anxiety.
For patients with extreme anxiety, or those facing complex or lengthy procedures, IV sleep sedation (Sleep Dentistry) is a wonderful option. Genuine Sleep Dentistry is both fully tranquillizing and fully amnesiac. While there are some dentists certified to administer IV sleep sedation themselves, it is less than ideal for a dental practitioner to oversee the medical condition of their fully sedated patient while simultaneously performing their dental procedure. In these cases, it is in your best interest to request the presence of a Board Certified MD Anesthesiologist to administer your sedation and monitor your wellbeing. He or she will ensure you have a safe, pain free, anxiety free experience.
Break the cycle of fear and avoidance. Call a highly qualified, trusted dentist today. Ask how sedation dentistry can help you overcome your fears to achieve the optimum oral health you deserve.