My family's dental health is important to me. Unfortunately for me, it is not as important to my little ones. Getting my kids to brush and floss on a daily basis is almost like taking on an obstacle course. I talked to my family's dentist about different methods I could try to encourage them to brush and floss on a regular basis. Some of the tricks worked, some did not. After some experimentation and talking to other parents, I was able to come up with a lot of great tips for helping kids care for their teeth. I started this blog to help other parents get creative when it comes to their kids and dental care.
Does the thought of even routine dental procedures send chills down your spine? Does just the thought of a dentist's chair leave you desperate to be doing anything else at all? Maybe you had a bad experience with a dentist when you were younger, or maybe you just have a phobia of dentists that doesn't seem to have any particular origin.
It can be easy to feel ashamed of dental anxiety, but in reality it is extremely common in adults. Some studies estimate that as much as 10-15% of the US adult population has dental phobia of varying degrees. Whether your phobia is mild or severe, you should not let it stand of the way of giving your teeth and gums the care that they deserve.
What is Dental Anxiety?
Dental anxiety is simply a fear of going to the dentist. Its symptoms manifest in a variety of different ways and with varying degrees of severity. Just about everyone gets a little bit nervous before any appointment with a doctor, but you may have dental anxiety if you find that your nervousness extends to trouble sleeping or physical symptoms such as nausea. Severe cases of dental anxiety are generally referred to as dental phobia, and may include much more serious symptoms including difficulty breathing or anxiety attacks.
Whether your anxiety is mild or severe, it is no laughing matter and you should expect the dentists that you deal with to be both compassionate and professional in addressing it.
Can Sedation Dentistry Help?
Sedation dentistry refers to the use of sedatives to help patients relax while undergoing dental exams or treatment. It is one possible option if you suffer from either severe dental anxiety or phobia. Although it is always best to try to address the root causes of these fears so that you can move past them, in the meantime it helps to have a solution that will allow you to keep up with proper dental care without putting yourself under undue stress.
If you are considering sedation dentistry as an option, it is important to realize that there are varying levels of sedation that can be used and that not all dentists will offer them all. Sedation options range from mild sedatives at the lower end to full general anesthesia at the upper end. These options may be administered through inhaled gas, oral drugs, or intravenously. The purpose of these sedation options is not to relieve pain (a separate local anesthetic will still be used for that), but to help you stay relaxed.
Before deciding on the usage of sedation, have a frank discussion with your dentist about your level of anxiety. By being open and honest about the fears you have, your dentist will likely be able to recommend a level of sedation that will be perfect to help keep you calm and relaxed during your exam or procedure.