For most of us, dental check-ups are just one of the many things that we do on a routine basis to help maintain our oral health. Unfortunately, this is not the case for everyone. Even the thought of an upcoming dentist appointment could cause high anxiety and panic attacks for some people. This condition is known as odontophobia or dental fear or anxiety, which often leads to patients missing a dental visit or avoiding going to the dentist whenever possible.
As it is not an unusual condition, dental professionals are aware of the worries and problems these patients are experiencing. In fact, most dentists can help ease a patient’s anxiety with procedures like sleep dentistry in Geelong. Let’s take a closer look at what dental fear is and how to manage it for a better dental experience.
Know Your Dental Fear
Dental fear, also termed dental phobia, can result from a poor experience with a dentist or dental procedure in the past. As a result, patients with this type of fear tend to postpone or cancel their check-ups. When confronted with a dental problem, they may brush it off as a minor ailment to avoid going to a dentist.
This can lead to more significant issues like tooth decay, gum disease, infection, and severe pain if the nerve in the centre of the tooth is affected. Eventually, when the pain becomes worse, the person has no choice but to undergo symptom-driven treatment, which will be more severe than if the condition had been identified earlier. With treatments like sleep dentistry, the patient can address their phobia more effectively so that they no longer have to avoid dental appointments as a way to cope with the fear.
Dental Fear Symptoms and Solutions
Signs of dental phobia can manifest in a variety of ways. In terms of physiological response, the person may feel nauseous and shaky when they think about going to the dentist. Their heart rate rises, and they feel out of breath, further aggravating their anxiety. Panic mode sets in, with symptoms such as breathing difficulties and emotional responses such as anxiety and apprehension.
There are numerous methods for overcoming this fear and anxiety, just as there are for other phobias. Some people, for example, find hypnotherapy helpful in calming their nerves and putting them in a relaxed mood. Others will utilise meditation and deep breathing techniques to achieve a peaceful mood. On the other hand, dental professionals can provide a much more successful procedure by using sedation or sleep dentistry.
It is critical for patients with dental fear to pick a compassionate and experienced dentist in managing anxious individuals. This begins with a visit to the clinic to take a look around and meet the people who work there. It’s advisable to discuss dental phobia with the dentist, as well as to examine the treatment room and comprehend the procedures that the patient will require. This is similar to what parents do to help their little ones get familiar with the dental environment before they bring their children to the dentist in Geelong.
At times, this may be enough to ease some of the anxieties that surface in some individuals, but dental fear is a much deeper form of anxiety. Therefore, simple sedation or sleep dentistry is the most effective approach – especially for those who suffer from severe panic attacks triggered by anything related to a dental experience.
Sedation for a Stress-Free Experience
Oral sedatives are usually taken approximately an hour before the surgery begins, and the patient remains awake throughout the process. The sedative, such as diazepam, makes the patient sleepy, but it also soothes the nervous system, lowering anxiety and stress symptoms.
Dental clinics may also use “happy gas”, a colourless, non-flammable gas called nitrous oxide, via a mask to help the patient relax and feel less anxious. The gas won’t put the patients to sleep, and its effects will fade when the mask is removed.
Benefits of Sleep Dentistry
Sleep dentistry, on the other hand, allows patients to sleep through the entire dental procedure. It is especially beneficial for people who are severely nervous or need extensive dental work. The patient can complete their dental treatment without being exposed to the sounds or visuals of the procedure. This form of sedation is administered by a medically trained anaesthetist who has the specialised experience in the area.
It is vital to look after yourself and your teeth. With advancements in dental treatments, even patients with acute dental phobia can be treated successfully with proper care and comfort. Contact a friendly and professional dentist to discuss your sleep dentistry treatment options.