Improving Your Dental Care

3 Tips To Help You Work Through Your Dental Anxiety

According to WebMD, between 9% and 20% of U.S. adults avoid visiting their dentist because of anxiety. Even if the percentage is on the lower side, any kind of fear is unfortunate because dental care is so important for preventing cavities, gum disease, oral cancer, etc. Thankfully, there are ways to overcome your fears and make visits more comfortable. Here are three tips to help you work through dental anxiety.

1. Wear Noise-Canceling Headphones

Some people's anxiety is triggered when they hear dental drills or high-speed handpieces. Ask your dentist if he or she offers noise-canceling headphones — or bring your own. You can listen to music, a podcast, etc. Some offices even have TVs now on the ceiling so that when you are reclined in the dental chair, you can watch a TV show and get the sound through in-office headsets.

2. Consider Sedation Dentistry

There are many levels of sedation dentistry. If you have extreme anxiety, then your dentist may recommend general anesthesia where you will be completely out. However, there can be side effects of general anesthesia, and you'll need someone to drive you home afterward.

If you are okay with conscious sedation, your dentist may recommend nitrous oxide, or laughing gas; this sedation method is helpful at calming the nerves and reducing pain. Plus, you'll recover much more quickly from the medication's side effects. Lastly, some dentists may prescribe anti-anxiety drugs, like Valium, which can be taken before a visit.

If you do need local anesthetic and are worried that sedation isn't enough, ask your dentist about pre-procedure topical anesthetics. These products can come in gel, spray, or liquid forms and can be placed on the injection site beforehand to lessen or even eliminate an initial pinch of a syringe needle.

3. Ask About Non-Invasive Treatment Options

Are you anxious about pain during a dental procedure? Ask your dentist about quick, painless alternatives. For example, if you have a cavity, your dentist may be able to treat it with silver diamine fluoride (SDF) instead of a dental drill. SDF liquid can be applied with a brush to cavities, and no drilling or anesthetic shots are required.

Some people get nervous about going to the dentist because they have bad gag reflexes. If you need to get an impression taken, consider intra-oral scanning instead of impression trays. During an intra-oral scan, your dentist will use a wand-like camera to scan all of your teeth and gums so that you don't have to risk gagging while wearing a tray full of alginate. This scan is recorded on a computer and then sent to a dental lab so that they can fabricate a dental appliance, like a retainer.

Don't let your oral health suffer because of anxiety. Call a dentist in your area today to discuss your concerns so that you can have a good experience.