Dental anxiety is surprisingly common, and most people feel a little nervous about sitting in the chair. However, you should never let being afraid of visiting the dentist interfere with your oral health.
Today, dentists are able to use a variety of techniques to help keep cleanings and other treatments as comfortable as possible. Whether your dental fears arose from a single painful episode or you’ve always avoided going to the dentist, use these strategies to overcome your anxiety and take care of your smile.
Identify the Underlying Fear of Dental Anxiety
There are many reasons why people fear going to the dentist. For some people, the prospect of having someone peer into their mouth inspires social anxiety. Alternatively, you may fear the possibility of something hurting during an exam or treatment procedure.
Some people just prefer to avoid having to sit in one place for any length of time. Spend some time thinking about what you do not like about going to the dentist so that you can come up with solutions. For instance, you could break up visits into shorter sessions if you get anxious sitting for long periods of time or talk about pain management strategies to help you avoid discomfort.
Communicate With Your Dentist
Dentists are well aware that some people experience anxiety regarding their appointments. Make sure to choose a dentist that makes patient comfort a priority.
Then, let the office staff know about your worries when you call to schedule your appointment. They may be able to do things such as allow you to come in prior to your exam just to meet your dentist and the rest of the staff.
Your dentist can also help you feel more in control during your appointments by establishing a signal that you can use when you need to take a break such as raising your hand.
Bring a Distraction
You can use a variety of tools to help keep your mind from dwelling on dental anxiety. Consider bringing some headphones and your favorite playlist to help drown out the sound of the dental tools.
You might also enjoy using a fidget toy such as a stress ball to help keep your hands busy during the appointment. If you find that you get stressed out in the waiting room, then ask a friend to accompany you to the appointment so that you can stay distracted with a soothing conversation.
Try Relaxation Techniques
People with serious anxiety can often find relief by practicing relaxation techniques such as mindfulness or meditation. Before your appointment, try out a few exercises such as deep breathing or visualizing yourself in a comfortable environment such as the beach to find one that works best for you.
Then, use this technique before your appointment, and remember that you can also practice strategies such as visualization during your exams and treatments.
When dental fears cause you to put off those important appointments, it is time to take action. Always let your dentist know if you feel uncomfortable about any part of visiting their office. This way, you can work together to find ways to make your next dental appointment more enjoyable.
How To Prevent Dry Socket
Modern dentistry allows tooth extractions to be relatively easy procedures with minimal aftereffects. However, a condition called “dry socket” can occur after an extraction that causes increasing pain and inability to chew on the affected area. When this occurs, patients need to go back to their Chandler dentist for additional treatment of the dry socket problem to facilitate healing.
What Is Dry Socket?
When a tooth is extracted, a blood clot will eventually form to protect the bone and nerves that are exposed. However, in some cases, the blood clot dissolved or becomes dislodged from its position, leaving the bone and nerves open to air, fluids and pressure that enter the mouth. About two days afterward, the individual will begin to feel pain in the area of the extraction. This condition is called “dry socket” and can cause severe pain in the gum and jaw, inability to eat normally and a bad taste in the mouth. Normal healing cannot continue until the area is treated.
How Common Is Dry Socket After Extraction?
Dry socket occurs very rarely, in only about 2 percent of extractions, but the incidence rises to 20 percent when wisdom teeth are involved. Some circumstances are associated with a higher risk for dry socket problems:
- People who smoke often experience diminished blood circulation that can contribute to dry socket.
- Teeth that were difficult to extract may pose a higher risk for dry socket.
- Individuals who take birth control pills which cause changes in hormone levels may be prone to dry socket.
- Patients who have had dry socket problems with previous extractions are at increased risk.
- Individuals with poor oral hygiene habits are at higher risk for dry socket problems.
Treatment For Dry Socket Problems
Your dentist will have you come in for a follow-up visit to access the problem and may pack the socket with an antibiotic material or eugenol, which is an extract of clove oil that helps to relieve discomfort, while the area heals. The packing material may need to be replaced a number of times during the healing process. In addition, he or she may prescribe an oral antibiotic or recommend pain relievers to reduce discomfort. Ice packs can help to relieve swelling and pain. Ibuprofen can help to relieve pain during the day and will aid better sleep at night. If pain is severe, your dentist can prescribe stronger medications.
What You Can Do to Prevent Dry Socket
Patients can engage in a number of actions after a tooth extraction that will help to lower their risk for dry socket problems:
- Follow your dentist’s post-extraction instructions carefully.
- Stop smoking for a period before your tooth extraction and after to allow good blood flow to mouth tissues.
- Avoid sucking through a straw to prevent the dislodging of the blood clot that helps healing after extraction.
- Eat only soft foods until healing is well under way.
Although dry socket can be a painful problem that extends your dental treatment, professional care can help to reduce discomfort and promote faster healing of the affected area.
If you are looking into having a major dental procedure performed but are worried your anxieties may get the best of you, let’s talk about the option of sedation.
Sedation dentistry offers a variety of benefits for both the patient and the dentist. These include:
- An elevated level of tranquil relaxation and comfort for you. This extends to the sensation of pain that would likely flare up during an intricate procedure like a root canal. This can also be a great option for patients coping with sensitive teeth.
- A sharp decrease in the chance of involuntary movements that may increase the time that your dentist spends working on your teeth and gums.
- Suppression of the gag reflex; some procedures require a dental technician to reach far back into the mouth and cause the gag reflex to flare up, sending caustic acid to fly out of the mouth along with the patient’s stomach contents.
- Impaired memory of the event. Patients with a phobia of the dentist, drills, or other common elements of the dental profession may appreciate having little to no recollection of the procedures.
- Fewer visits for an intensive procedure. A relaxed patient gives the dentist more time to work on that patient’s mouth over the span of the appointment. The more work that a dentist does on a patient’s mouth, the fewer additional appointments will be required of that patient.
Patients curious about the sorts of approaches involved in sedative dentistry should know that there are several techniques:
- Ingested treatments; commonly Halcion, a pill related to the drug Valium.
- Gas, commonly nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas”.
- Injection treatments. Injection treatments afford your dentist a greater level of control over dosage and can go to work far more quickly than a treatment like Halcion.
In addition to approach, we can control how deep the sedation takes hold. This can vary from a mild state of relaxation and full consciousness, to a slightly deeper level that tends to result in slurred speech and spotty awareness, to a deep level of sedation that brings the patient to the border of unconsciousness to a general anesthetic that leaves the patient temporarily unconscious.