Some people put off dental care because of anxiety. Some people avoid the dentist because they don't like the sound of the dental handpiece. Some people are anxious about the possible discomfort with anesthetic needles. However, avoidance due to anxiety can put you at risk for future problems. If you avoid going to the dentist, you won't get that preventative care for oral diseases like tooth caries and periodontal disease. Here are just a few tips to help you relieve your anxiety.
Look for a Dental Office with TVs
Some dental offices have TVs on the ceilings so that when you are reclined in the dental chair, you can enjoy a show. It's easier to quit worrying about what the dentist, hygienist, or dental assistant is doing when you are distracted with entertainment. Look for an office in your area that offers these kinds of amenities.
Bring Music and Headphones
If the office you visit doesn't have a TV, consider bringing some headphones and some tunes. Like TV shows, some good music will help you take your mind off of what's being done in the dental operatory. Plus, if you dislike the sound of the dental drill, then the music can drown it out.
Ask Your Dentist about Comfortable Chairs
Some offices that have massage chairs for their patients. Some of these chairs may be in the waiting room, but there are also dental chairs with integrated massage technology. This means you can relieve tension during your appointment.
When you are anxious, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. When you get a massage, these hormone levels can decrease. Besides reducing cortisol, massage raises feel-good neurotransmitters in your body, like oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphin. Endorphins not only make you feel better, but they can reduce your perception of pain.
Consider Sedation Dentistry
Sedation dentistry is a great blessing for people with dental anxiety. There are many levels of sedation you can chose, depending on your anxiety levels and what procedures need to be done. For example, you could opt for conscious sedation by wearing a mask that mixes nitrous oxide and oxygen (also called "laughing gas"). Nitrous oxide helps you relax and lowers your pain threshold. It also wears off quickly so you can drive yourself home.
Your dentist may also recommend minimal oral sedation. Your dentist may have you take a Valium half an hour before your appointment so that by the time you come in, you'll be relaxed. If you want to be sedated even more or completely asleep for the appointment, you can opt for IV sedation or general anesthesia. Keep in mind, you'll need someone to drive you home after an appointment with deep sedation since it will take a while to recover from the sedative.
If you are looking for dental care, contact a dental care service in your area and let them know about your anxiety levels. They will be happy to accommodate your needs.