I Have Dental Anxiety: Can You Help?

I Have Dental Anxiety: Can You Help?

While it’s common for young children to feel a little apprehensive about their first few dental appointments (they’re just getting used to them), we know that dental anxiety can strike at any age. Dental anxiety refers to the jitters before and during a dental appointment. Dental phobia is a much more severe form of dental anxiety, and it can even stop you from getting the care you need. As many as 20% of adults skip out any necessary dental work due to dental phobia, which can create more complications in the long run. 

Our experienced dentists at Supertooth™ wants you to know that you don’t need to miss out on dental care due to dental phobia. We offer sedation services to keep you or your child calm and comfortable.

Below, our team explains eight signs of dental phobia and how sedation dentistry can help ease your anxieties.

8 signs of dental phobia

Dental phobia isn’t as common as dental anxiety, but it can have a tremendous impact on your oral health, especially if it contributes to the avoidance of routine and restorative dental care. 

Dental phobia can cause:

  1. Sweating 
  2. Racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
  3. Low blood pressure that can lead to syncope (fainting)
  4. Signs of panic, including shortness of breath and crying
  5. Withdrawal
  6. Anger or humor (which masks anxiety)
  7. Physical discomfort, including stomach upset
  8. Avoidance

If you have dental phobia in addition to another form of anxiety, you may benefit from working with your mental health care provider to learn coping mechanisms for anxiety. In addition, there are strategies you can implement during your dental appointment, such as deep breathing, distraction (listening to an audiobook), and using a weighted blanket during your appointment.

Sedation dentistry can be a beacon of hope for those who struggle with dental phobia, and it complements the above strategies nicely.

How sedation dentistry helps ease dental phobia

Sedation dentistry uses different types of medication to help you relax during your dental appointment. Sometimes sedation dentistry is called “sleep dentistry” it can relax you to the point where you’re comfortable enough to drift off to sleep. Sedation dentistry is especially helpful for people whose fears are also accompanied by a strong gag reflex and a low pain threshold. 

Here at Supertoothl, we offer:

1. Nitrous oxide 

Nitrous oxide 一 or laughing gas 一 is one of the most popular forms of sedation because it doesn’t require any injection or shot. It’s delivered painlessly via a mask that fits over your nose. Nitrous oxide is a colorless, odorless gas, and as soon as you inhale, you instantly relax.

Nitrous oxide reduces dental phobia in two ways:

  1. It affects the GABAA receptors that block neurotransmitters, which leads to an anti-anxiety effect
  2. It triggers your brain to release norepinephrine, which reduces pain signaling 

Laughing gas is quickly reversible, is safe for your children, and doesn’t impact your ability to drive yourself home after your appointment.

2. Oral sedation

Oral sedation provides relief from dental phobia through oral medication. There are different kinds of oral sedation, and many require you to swallow a pill 30-60 minutes before your procedure. Depending on the potency of your medication, you may feel drowsy. If you drift off to sleep, your lengthy appointment might seem like mere minutes to you. 

Note that oral sedation doesn’t wear off as quickly as laughing gas. Before your appointment, our team provides detailed instructions on your oral sedation plans, including if you need a family member or friend to drive you home. 

Regardless of which sedation option you choose, know that you still receive a local anesthetic during your procedures. Laughing gas and oral medication relax you, while the anesthetics stop your nerves from sending pain signals to your brain.

Find the solutions that work best for you

If you’ve postponed dental care 一 whether that's surgery or an extraction or even a filling 一 we want you to get the care you need without feeling anxious. Based on the severity of your dental phobia and the type of procedure you need, our team walks you through all of your sedation options. 

Don’t let dental phobia prevent you from seeking dental care. To learn more about sedation dentistry, call our compassionate and skilled team in either Woodbridge or Bristow, Virginia. You can also use our online booking tool.

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