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Overcoming Dental Anxiety


Article by The GDC Team

Photography by Jerrae Wilson

Partner Content

We have been so fortunate in our years of dentistry to meet so many incredible patients. While every mouth is different, a lot of our patients share the same feelings towards dental work. Unfortunately, dental anxiety is common amongst patients. A good dental office will be patient with you, and allow you to schedule your dental work when you feel ready. But, a great dental office will give you all of the resources to help overcome your dental anxiety. 

The first step to overcoming your dental anxiety is finding the root of what causes it. Is it just the discomfort of being in a dental office? Are you a generally anxious person? Or, was there a previous dental experience that caused trauma to you? Whatever it may be, there is a solution

Most dental anxieties come from very miniscule things. We have been told the noises from the dental tools can cause unease. Our recommendation would be to bring headphones to your appointment and listen to some music. If you don't have any, we always have extras. Another common fear is pain associated with dental work. Contrary to popular belief, there shouldn't be a lot of pain during or following procedures. During your dental procedures, you should be numb in the area they are working on. While you may feel some pressure from time to time, you really shouldn't feel any pain. Even days after the procedure, there shouldn't be any discomfort that over the counter pain medicine can't help with. We have also heard the fear of gagging hinders some from regular dental visits and X-Rays. Our tip for that fear, would be to trick your senses. Wiggle your toes, look up to the ceiling and count backwards from ten. This allows your brain to focus on something else and before you know it, your X-Rays are over. 

If simple adjustments still don't take the tension away, there are always sedation options. The first sedation option that we recommend is Nitrous Oxide, commonly called "laughing gas." Nitrous Oxide is a gas that relaxes your brain enough to ease you through your procedure, but still allows you to have control of your body. Once the dental procedure is complete, the Nitrous Oxide is replaced with Oxygen and after a few minutes, you are back to normal. For bigger procedures where Nitrous Oxide may not be enough, we may recommend a medication. The anti-anxiety medication is typically taken the night before and the morning of the dental procedure. With this medication, you may naturally fall asleep or may be so relaxed that you have no fear at all. This medication is so effective, it requires a designated driver and companion throughout the day. The benefit to medication is that you won't feel any anxiety through your procedure, and will most likely not remember anything even hours afterwards. The last form of sedation would be IV sedation. With IV sedation, you will be put completely to sleep with the Anesthesiologist with you throughout the procedure. As you can imagine, you would feel no anxiety whatsoever and will also have no memory of your dental procedure.

While the tips listed above can help with most normal anxieties, there are some cases that require a little more consolation. While it tends to be rare, there are some patients who previously experienced trauma associated with dental work. The majority of the trauma that we hear was experienced as a child and has carried into adulthood. Our recommendation is to communicate all of your needs and make sure that you feel comfortable with the entire dental team, especially the dental assistants. During any dental procedures your dental assistant will be with you the entire time and will be there for all of your needs.. Most of our patients who have experienced previous dental trauma will require some form of sedation. But, the most important factor in conquering your dental anxiety is building trust with your dental team.


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