Dental Phobia

Do you fear a visit to the dentist?

Many people dread going to see the dentist. Indeed, some people avoid going altogether unless and until they develop a problem which means they cannot avoid going any longer. It is estimated that four out of every five people have some degree of fear concerning the dentist. For some it is a simple case of nerves, but others experience what is known as dental phobia. This is more extreme than simply experiencing nerves. It can jeopardise their ability to go for regular check-ups and thus to avoid the more involved dental treatments that are more common in those who rarely visit the dentist.

Techniques for reducing nerves when visiting the dentist

The good news is that there are several methods you can use to ensure your nerves are reduced before attending a dental appointment. Consider these methods and see which ones work for you.

Seek a dentist who is experienced at assisting with nervous patients

Some dentists are well known for welcoming nervous patients and providing additional services to make the visit to the dentist easier to manage. The team at Dent1st are proud to have assisted many patients with dental phobia or fear of the dentist in completing their appointments and treatments successfully.

Consider listening to music

Music can and does affect your mood. Find some songs you feel are calming and relaxing and listen to them during your appointment. Remember to take your earphones with you.

Try listening to a hypnosis recording in the lead up to your dental appointment

Many patients have successfully used hypnosis to allay their fears concerning the dentist. If you are interested in this method it is best to start using a hypnosis recording some days or weeks before your dental appointment. This will help you attain the best results.

Discuss your worries and concerns before the treatment begins

If you have any specific concerns about your dental treatment, be sure to ask the dentist or a member of the dental team about them. It is best to make a list of the questions you want to ask so you do not forget anything important to you.

Make sure you know what to expect from each appointment

If a patient with a painful tooth visits their dentist, the dentist must look at the tooth in order to discover the problem. However the patient will automatically worry that the dentist will touch or poke the tooth and cause pain – unless the dentist assures them in advance they will not do so.

In this example, it is the ever present fear of the unknown that is the primary cause of concern. Indeed it is this fear of the unknown that causes many patients with dental fear and dental phobia to feel upset and nervous. Thus you should take the time to ask your dentist what they will be doing during the appointment. If you know what to expect you will feel far less stressed worrying about things that may not even occur.

Whatever the reason may be for your fear of the dentist, it is best to address the matter. There are several ways to reduce your fear and make your dental appointments easier to attend; all you must do is to focus on what works for you.

Dent1st’s solution for nervous patients

At Dent1st we provide conscious sedation for patients undergoing long treatments. This is provided for practical reasons. It is inconvenient and quite difficult to sit motionless for a long period of time and be able to bear all the noise, vibration, tastes and smells of a dental procedure. This holds true even if you are not a particularly nervous patient.

Sedation is useful for patients who find it difficult to maintain concentration and stillness during the procedure they are undergoing. However it is also useful for those who are nervous and have a very strong dental fear or even a phobia of the dentist. Thus it is able to be used during investigative processes and diagnostic procedures, as well as the actual treatment processes. Many people who suffer from dental phobias respond well to conscious sedation; it can make all the difference between avoiding the dentist altogether and seeking the required treatment to maintain good oral health.

If you feel that under no circumstances will you be able to cope with what is required to complete your treatment, please do let our staff know in advance. We can then arrange the conscious sedation process for you to put your mind at rest.

What is conscious sedation?

Conscious sedation is provided in order to relax a patient during a dental procedure. The sedation is actually comprised of two main elements:

  • A sedative to help relax your mind and body
  • An anaesthetic to numb the area being treated so you do not feel any pain

The combination of the drugs given will make you feel relaxed, although you will probably stay conscious (hence the name of this method of sedation). Many patients find themselves unable to talk while sedated in this way, which is ideal when undergoing a dental procedure.

A general anaesthetic – one that puts you completely to sleep during your desired procedure – takes some time to flush out of your system. Thus it also takes longer for you to recover and get back to your normal life. However a conscious sedation is far easier and quicker to recover from. You can continue with your tasks for the day once the procedure has been completed.

How is the conscious sedation given?

It can be given in a number of ways but it is always given by a qualified person. This is usually a dentist or a dental nurse. You will receive it in one of these ways:

  • Via an IV (intravenous) line into your arm
  • Orally (it takes longer to take full effect in this way)
  • Via injection

Regardless of the method used to administer it, this form of sedation is safe. As the sedative starts to have its effect you will feel drowsy and more relaxed. You will be closely monitored during the time you are under the influence of the sedation. The dentist may talk to you while the procedure is taking place; you may not be able to respond verbally but some people find they can only nod. This is nothing to worry about and is merely the effect of the sedation. Indeed many people find that although they are conscious during their dental procedure, they remember very little about it once it is completed.

There are few risks associated with conscious sedation. On very few occasions, usually if the patient receives too much sedation, breathing issues could occur. This is why you are closely watched throughout the dental procedure, in case anything should happen. Every dental practice will have the correct equipment to provide assistance if it should ever be needed. However we should stress this is exceptionally rare and most people receive conscious sedation with no issues at all.

What to expect before undergoing conscious sedation for a dental procedure

If you have elected to undergo conscious sedation in order to complete your dental procedure and combat your dental phobia, it is important to let your dentist know if you are pregnant, or if there is any chance you may be pregnant. You should also advise them of any medications you are taking, whether they are prescribed or not. This extends to cold medication and also supplements or similar items. You should also advise them if you have undergone sedation before and whether there were any issues.

Don’t worry if you are required to have any blood tests. This is perfectly normal. Sometimes you may be required to undergo a medical too, but again this is nothing to worry about. It is advisable not to smoke if you have opted for conscious sedation, so if you can it is wise to stop.

Even though you will not completely lose consciousness during the procedure, you will not be able to drive yourself home. Make sure you have someone with you who can drive you to your appointment and get you safely home again as well.

What to expect on the day your procedure takes place

It is common practice for all patients receiving conscious sedation not to eat or drink anything before the procedure. You should also avoid any alcohol the day before. Typically this will be from midnight, but adhere to the advice given by your dentist. You will be given a time for your procedure and you should always ensure you arrive in plenty of time.

What to expect after the procedure has taken place

People react differently to conscious sedation. You are most likely to feel very tired and drowsy. Some people experience headaches while others may feel nauseous. These are all perfectly normal. You will not be allowed to leave immediately after the dental procedure. Your oxygen levels and blood pressure will be monitored for a short time afterwards as you come round fully from the sedation.

Recovering from your dental procedure and sedation

It is best to do very little for the remainder of the day on which your dental procedure takes place if you have undergone conscious sedation. However the recovery is fairly quick and you should find it easy to return to your normal lifestyle the day after.

For a period of 24 hours after the procedure – at the very least – you should not attempt to drive or operate heavy machinery. Furthermore it is wise to avoid alcohol as it can make you feel very ill. We also advise you do not make any important decisions of any kind during this period, to ensure the sedation has fully left your body.

Make sure you have your aftercare instructions from your dentist before leaving the surgery. These may include treating your wound, what you can or cannot do and whether you need to take any medicines to aid recovery. While many people feel better for eating something after they return home, this will depend on the nature of the dental treatment you have undergone. Consult your dentist for advice on what you should eat and what you should avoid.

It is clear to see that having a dental phobia can harm your dental health. If you consider conscious sedation to be a potential solution for eradicating your dental fears, contact us today to enquire about sedation for your next treatment.