Dealing with Dental Anxiety

Very few days go by that I do not walk into the examination room and find the patient on the edge of the dental chair. The next thing that happens is that I get told, “Doctor please don’t be offended, but I am afraid and don’t like the dentist.” Many people still experience dental anxiety.

Origins of Dental Anxiety

Despite all the advancements in modern dentistry and many new tools and gadgets, people have a real and deep rooted fear of the dentist, and only go to the dentist when they can no longer tolerate the pain. Often these fears result from bad childhood dental experiences or passed on from fearful parents.

The parent’s fear is so great that they avoid seeing the dentist at all costs. As a result, not only does proper oral hygiene not get passed on to their children, but these children’s first dental experience results from a really bad tooth-ache that they associate with the dental office.

Dental Experience

A dental experience does not have to be scary. In most instances the pain associated with a dental procedure is more psychological than real and can be corrected or minimized with a little patience and education.

With the invention of digital x-rays and intra-oral cameras, we project and magnify x-ray images onto a tv screen in front of the dental chair so the patient understands what procedure needs to be done and why they need to be done. Once a patient is educated about their treatment and understands what will occur, anxiety is significantly decreased.

In the offices of Sweet Tooth Dental Care all the examination rooms are equipped with flat screen tv’s, iPods™, and candles so we can address many of the unpleasant dental experiences, including the noise of the drill and the smell of the dental office.

More Options

Other inventions that help include Nitrous Oxide, also known as “laughing gas”. After a few minutes of inhaling the nitrous, you will feel light headed and have a euphoric “happy drunk” feeling. Patients forget they are in a dental office and the most anxious patients are very comfortable and relaxed.

At Sweet Tooth Dental Center, we offer Nitrous Oxide complimentary for the first major procedure in order to give the patient a better first experience.

Lasers

Another technology advancement that is improving greatly is lasers. Although they are still being perfected and not appropriate for all procedures, they cause significantly far less dental pain that conventional drills and are fairly quiet.