Solutions for Overcoming Dental Fear
Veronica Avalos, D.D.S. can help you get the care you need.
Dental Anxiety is Not Uncommon
In fact, some studies show that up to 75% of Americans experience some level of dental related fear and 20% avoid dental care because of it. If you have a fear of dental work, we want you to know that making you feel comfortable and safe at our office is our first priority.
Dental Anxiety vs. Dental Phobia
Dental anxieties and phobias present themselves in a wide variety of ways, and specific fears vary from person to person. Dental anxiety may be mild to moderate, and often takes the form of a general sense of worry and apprehension when thinking about an upcoming procedure. Dental phobia is a more intense experience, with patients feeling an overwhelming, irrational fear of dental work. This can sometimes cause them to avoid care all together.
We Can Help!
Whatever your individual level of anxiety may be, our office is committed to making sure that your visit is as comfortable, quick and easy as possible. There are many solutions for dental anxiety, and we are ready to help.
Here are a few popular methods for easing anxiety in the dental office:
Informing us as to what you are afraid of is a great place to start. Often we can quell a fear simply by giving you correct or updated information. We will always keep you informed before, during and after your procedure, making sure that you understand what is going on and why we are doing it.
- Calming Techniques:
Many patients find it helpful to practice controlled breathing or to find distraction inside the room.
- Listening to Music:
With most procedures, the use of personal headphones and music is allowed. This is a great way to keep calm and pass the time while in the chair.
- Oral Sedation:
Depending on the nature of your procedure, various types of sedation may be available to you including oral sedation.
- Taking Breaks:
Let us know if you would like to take a short break during your treatment by signaling with your left hand.
The most commonly prescribed dental related drugs that treat anxiety belong to the “benzodiazepine” family. Drugs such as Valium, Halcion, Xanax, or Ativan. These drugs decrease anxiety by binding and toning down activity within “fear” receptors in the brain.
There are two different types of Benzodiazepines:
- Sedative-Hypnotics: These drugs induce calm, including drowsiness and even sleep. This sleep state is actually a form of hypnosis which is a form of physiological sleep.
- Anti-Anxiety Drugs: These are drugs which relieve anxiety and induce a state of calm and relaxation.
While benzodiazepines act as sedatives AND anti-anxiety drugs, some are highly targeted at areas within the brain which focus on sleep. Others act in a more specific way and target fear centers in the brain. In most cases, higher doses act as sedatives and induce sleep, while in lower doses, they reduce anxiety without sedation.
Benzodiazepines are also Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants (i.e. there can be a decline in blood pressure and breathing). It is important to note that they shouldn’t be mixed with other CNS depressants such as alcohol. Its important that you utilize the dose your dentist or doctor recommends. It is possible to overdose, and overdoses could lower your breathing to dangerously low levels, which could result in coma or death.
Please note that you shouldn’t travel on your own after you’ve taken any of these drugs. Make sure you have an escort, even if you traveled by bus or foot! It’s easy to become disorientated.
When not to take benzodiazepines:
Some of these drugs can affect your liver and heart. It’s important to check with your practitioner and/or pharmacist. You should be sure to inform your doctor or dentist if any of the following apply: known allergy to the drug, narrow-angle glaucoma, pregnancy, severe respiratory disease (COPD), congestive heart failure (CHF), impaired kidney or liver function, depression/bipolar disorder/psychoses, chronic bronchitis and some other conditions. It’s also important to let us know if you are taking other medications. There could be possible drug interactions.
Oral health is important for the health of your whole body. Don’t let fear stand in your way of good dental care! We can help you get the care that you need. Call Today to Make an Appointment. South San Francisco Office Phone Number 650-583-5992