I thought I would add some of my thoughts on one of the biggest issues that come up in dentistry. That would be fear of dentistry. The stress and anxiety involved with a visit to the dentist is often enough to drive people to do things that small problems into big problems. Stress and anxiety do not have to control your mental well-being and overall health. What can someone do to make dentistry stress-free? The solution is different for everyone, because everyone is unique. There are a few good guidelines, though.
The problems are unique to the patient, but the solutions are not as hard to come by as one might think. First, try to pinpoint the problem. If there is a specific issue, such as when a patient does not like the sounds involved with dentistry, then there’s usually a simple fix. Just be open with your dental provider and almost all of us will take the time to address the issue and try to find a solution that will work for both of us. There is a compromise that can be achieved most of the time.
However, there’s not always a single, specific issue that is causing anxiety over a dental appointment. Some patients have issues with relinquishing control, fear of the unknown, or even self-consciousness over their current state of dental health. These issues are a little tougher to overcome, but the solution is the same as in the previous case. Talk to the dentist! We became dentists because we want to help people. If you take the time to let us know what is blocking you from being comfortable with us, we will try to remove those blocks.
Those of us who are very apprehensive about treatment may need some help that requires more than just slightly altering the way we do things. Getting over that apprehension may involve taking an anti-anxiety medication before treatment. This helps the majority of patients with severe anxiety. A select few of patients are either so nervous about treatment (or are physically unable to cooperate) that they may need to be fully sedated either with general anesthesia (a patient is completely asleep) or IV sedation (the patient is in a monitored facility where the medications used are dispensed via IV). But the answer is still just talking to the dentist. We need to find out what your needs are so that we can help you. If we cannot find a way to get the treatment you need then we will find a new method of getting things done.
One can easily see that the solution is always the same. Talk to the dentist. Here, we use special techniques to numb teeth without the usual pinch and have the options of either nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or a pre-appointment medication to help relieve stress. We have blankets to keep you warm and you are always welcome to bring an iPod to help with noises. But we need to know to use these tricks and the only way we’ll know is if you talk to us.