This article is for anyone who hates going to the dentist. If you are fearful, I understand and know your fear is real.
I have been working with patients who suffer from dental anxiety for 20 years, and I understand what an obstacle it can be when seeking care.
At one time, you were probably traumatized by unnecessary pain and the frightening sounds of drill bits, and those memories will simply not go away.
Most cannot understand how real this fear is for patients who are frightened of the dentist.
Since having a healthy mouth is essential to your overall health, and only a dentist can provide the needed services, it makes sense to develop a plan to find the dentist who can help you work through the fear.
If you are a patient who suffers from this kind of anxiety, your main goal is to find someone you can trust, someone who has your best interest at heart, will respect your wishes and treat your fears with respect.
Every dentist has his or her own protocol and belief system in treating patients. It is important that you form a partnership and open communication with your dentist starting at the very first visit.
Other than an emergency, most appointments start with a consultation. A consultation is simply a time to get to know each other. This is not a time to pick or prod on the patient.
In my office, during this initial visit, nothing is placed in the mouth. We can get primary X-rays from the outside, which gives me a panoramic view of the entire jaw, joints and teeth. The consultation is an educational experience more than anything else. It’s a chance for doctor and patient to understand the needs and goals of potential treatments.
Next comes the exam, which can be done that day or at another appointment.
The exam is totally painless – no picks, no shots and no drilling. It is at this point where I take a visual assessment of the mouth.
Once I have the findings, solutions and options are explained in language you can understand, your job is to decide what you want as the end result. Almost anything is possible with modern dentistry. There is zero pressure or obligation on the patient’s part to proceed with treatment.
Our primary goal is taking care of the patient attached to the teeth, not the teeth themselves. Once the patient is comfortable, the teeth come next.
The best solution for patients with high fear, is undergoing oral sedation dentistry and getting as much work done in one or two appointments. Sedation during the dental work allows the patient to be in a very relaxed state for several hours. Many sedation patients don’t even remember the experience. Once all dental needs are completed, all you need is home care and cleaning visits. I have had great successful at this process.
Everyone is different and sedation is not always needed. Once high fear patients feel in control, and there is a trusting relationship, normal numbing of the teeth is all that is needed. Nitrous oxide, which is a time-tested method for helping to relax the patient, can also be used.
For those with extreme cases of anxiety, an IV can be given with the help of an anesthesiologist.
The most recent technology to help our patients relax is NuCalm (nucalm.com). This technology uses sophisticated relaxation technologies that utilize headphones to create a very calm and peaceful state. It can be used alone, with nitrous or with sedation.
The new year is the right time to do what needs to be done to have a healthier life. Get a great start to 2016 by doing some research and finding the right dentist for you.