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Dental Anxiety & Fear

woman with dental anxiety

The general fear of dental appointments can be a common cause for worry and anxiety. Many people visualize a drill-wielding man in a white coat just waiting to cause pain and remove teeth. 

The reality, however, is very different because the comfort, relaxation, and happiness of the patient are the primary focus of any good dental practice. The staff at the practice will do whatever they can to reduce anxiety, reduce fears, and provide painless, quick treatments.

Recent technological advancements have made it possible for dentists to replace noisy drills with painless laser beams in many cases. There are also a wide variety of safe anesthetics available to eliminate pain and reduce anxiety during routine appointments.

Here is a list of some of the most common dental fears:

  • Fear and embarrassment about the condition of teeth.
  • Fear of gagging.
  • Fear of injections.
  • Fear of loss of control.
  • Fear of not becoming numb when injected with Novocain.
  • Fear of pain.
  • Fear of the dentist as a person.
  • Fear of the handpiece (or the drill).

Managing dental anxiety with laughing gas

Here at Springbank Dental, we use laughing gas to help patients feel more comfortable during their procedure. 

This mild sedative allows you to feel calm and relaxed, whether you feel anxious about your treatment, gagging your mouth, or unable to sit still.

Children and patients with special needs can also receive laughing gas for their procedures. These procedures do not have to be complex but require being stationary for an extended period. 

Laughing gas is delivered to you through a small mask you wear over your nose. There are no needles involved. It also does not put you to sleep. It keeps you conscious throughout your visit and lets you communicate with your dental team. 

Breathe normally once your mask is on, and the gas will start taking effect after a few minutes. Laughing gas is safe and effective, and it wears off soon after the mask is removed.

We can determine whether using sedation is necessary for your case during your consultation with the dentist. We can also look into options to help make your dental experience as smooth as possible.

If you think you or a family member need laughing gas for your next dental visit, let us know. We’re happy to share more information about it. 

How to overcome dental anxiety

It is estimated that as many as 35 million people do not visit the dental office at all because they are too afraid. 

It is incredibly important to receive regular dental check-ups and cleanings. This is the easiest way to maintain excellent oral hygiene and reduce the need for more complex treatments.

Here are some tips to help reduce dental fear and anxiety:

  • Talk to us – We can’t read minds. Though it can be hard to talk about irrational fears with a stranger, we can take extra precautions during visits if fears and anxiety are communicated.
  • Bring a portable music player – Music acts as a relaxant and also drowns out any fear-producing noises. Listening to calming music throughout the appointment will help to reduce anxiety.
  • Agree on a signal – Many people are afraid that the dentist will not know they are in significant pain during the appointment and will continue with the procedure regardless. The best way to solve this problem is to agree on a “stop” hand signal. Both parties can easily understand signals like raising the hand or tapping on the chair.
  • Spray the throat – Throat sprays can actually control the gag reflex. Two or three sprays will usually keep the reflex under control for about an hour.
  • Take a mirror or ask to use one at the office– Not being able to see what is happening can increase anxiety and make the imagination run wild. Watching the procedure can help keep reality at the forefront of the mind.
  • Sedation – If there is no other way to cope, sedation offers an excellent option for many people. There are several types of sedation, but the general premise behind them is the same: the patient regains their faculties after treatment is complete.
  • Ask about alternatives – Advances in technology mean that dental microsurgery is now an option. Lasers can be used to prepare teeth for fillings, whiten teeth, and remove staining. Discuss all the options with us and decide on one that is effective and produces minimal anxiety.

If you have questions or concerns about how we can help you overcome anxiety and fear, please contact our office at (403) 277-7464.

Springbank Dental Centre

Dr. Luke Szott and Dr. Joey Woo
116-30 Springborough Blvd SW, CALGARY AB T3H 0N9
New Patients: (403) 277-7464
Existing Patients: (587) 317-9910
Fax: (403) 265-2077

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