How to Reduce Stress Before a Visit to the Dentist

Dr. Parvin Carter

No body likes to go to the dentist. But for some people, the problems run deeper and form a phobia. The causes of dental phobia can be many and varied.Sometimes, one of the biggest challenges that a dentist has is when a patient with a phobia cannot necessarily articulate where their fear comes from. This makes the phobia more difficult to understand and manage, and is often the case when the phobia is based around a long-distant childhood memory.

An estimated 40 million Americans avoid the dentist because of fear and anxiety.

For many patients the secret to managing their dental fear or phobia is as simple as finding a dentist that they feel comfortable with. In modern practices, most dentists will be trained to support patients suffering from stress,anxiety or fear, whether that involves consultation, communication, distraction or behavior management. Often,especially if it is a patient suffering from a fear of the unknown, a dentist who does not take the time to explain procedures and to ensure that their patient feels comfortable with them, will only worry the patient more. This can lead to the kind of behavior where patients worry more and more and then feel less and less comfortable visiting the dentist as time goes on.

A good dentist will begin building a relationship at consultation stage which means that their patients trust them, understand them and know what their treatment involves.In many cases the initial consultation is the start of the solution, not simply so we understand your fear more but also so you get to know your dentist and relax more.

How to Reduce Stress Before a Visit

 1. Listen to Relaxing Music

This is my number one strategy for managing anxiety and pain in the dental chair.  Take noise canceling headphones and plug them into your ipod. Create a playlist ahead of time filled with relaxing music.

2. Practice Segmented Breathing

Keeping your breathing steady tricks your body into relaxing even in an environment your mind may be saying is stressful.  Although having your mouth open limits your pranayama options, you can easily keep your breathing segmented, that is divided into equal parts.  Try inhaling for four seconds and exhaling for four seconds through the nose.  After a few minutes, you will feel much more relaxed.

3. Plan to  Bring a friend or a family member with you .

Make sure this person is comfortable with dentists and not the high-strung sort.

4. Think positive!

Remember–when you get through this, you will prove to yourself you are a strong person, who takes care of your body. This will be over soon–and don’t forget to reward yourself!

5. Ask your dentist for oral sedation.

This is a medical procedure involving the administration of oral sedative drugs, generally to facilitate a dental procedure and reduce patients fear and anxiety related to the experience. Oral sedation is one of the available methods of conscious sedation dentistry., along with inhalation sedation (nitrous oxide) and conscious intravenous sedation

  • Anesthetics are not 100% effective for 100% of the population. If pain is your fear, be very clear up front in communicating this to your doctor, along with your past experiences. Don’t be afraid to dentist-shop until you find one willing to work with you. If your dentist doesn’t take your past dental pain experiences seriously, find another dentist.
  • Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas” is widely used in most dental practices and will relax you as well as heighten your pain threshold. If you are too nervous about Intravenous sedation, and nervous about the dental work, consult your dentist about this option. It is done by simply putting a nose mask on and breathing through your nose. Depending on the procedure, different amounts of nitrous oxide will be administered for the appropriate time.
  • Here is a tip from a terrified patient: Some professionals will not admit that some patients can’t be numbed adequately. This is a fact. If your dentist doesn’t believe this and pain is your issue, find another dentist who’s willing to work with you.
  • Dentistry has come a long way. There is very little, if any, pain associated with any procedure performed at a dental office. The anesthetics used for injections are profound and should completely numb the area being worked on. There is even an anesthetic used before the injection so you are already numb before you even get the shot that numbs you!

In dentistry experience and Continuing Education are everything. Dr. Parvin Carter has over 30 years of experience in Practicing General Dentistry and 25 years in Orthodontics. She has thousands of hours of advanced training. In 2000, Academy of General Dentistry awarded Dr. Carter a Certificate of Mastership (MAGD) in General Dentistry. According to the Journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, only 1% of US dentists achieve this high level of advancement. Dr. Carter is a Certified and Preferred Provider of Invisalign. She has successfully treated over 371 patients with Invisalign

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