Fear of Dentistry
Research indicates over 70% of the adult American population find dental treatment to be an anxiety-producing experience. So if you are fearful of dental care, you are not alone.
The worst thing you can do is to repress your fears and just try to "get through" the appointment. This only leads to greater apprehension for future dental appointments.
Fortunately, today there are numerous choices to address dental fear. These range from simple behavior techniques to the use of medications in varying degrees. The most appropriate choice of apprehension management depends on your degree of dental fear and the intensity of your dental treatment.
Our office is designed, staffed and equipped to offer all choices to address dental fear from behavioral techniques to varying levels of sedation.
Distraction is the simplest method of dealing with a stressful experience. If you have ever seen a child who is supposed to be studying but instead is gazing out the window at the clouds, you have witnessed distraction. Some people learn to deliberately distract their minds from stressful, undesired environments by concentrating intently on a pleasant circumstance, such as a walk through the forest, watching the sun slowly set at the seashore, or reliving a childhood Christmas morning. The technique to deliberately distract yourself is called guided imagery. We have a book available if you are interested in learning the technique.
Since it is not practical for everyone to take the time necessary to learn guided imagery, all treatment rooms are equipped with satellite television. Merely ask us to choose your favorite channel and allow yourself to be distracted.
For those who prefer, we also have stereo headphones available. Admittedly, the sound of dental treatment seems loud because we are working so close to your ears. Headphones allow you to mask the unpleasant sounds with music. You may choose from a wide selection of our CDs or bring a few of your own.
While distraction works well for some patients, not everyone finds it easy to focus intently enough to block out their dental appointment. In that case, medications are the better choice for patients. Some medicines gently cause you to relax and daydream. As the choice of medications becomes stronger, your memories of your appointment fade, until, when the strongest medications are used, you sleep through the appointment. Our office offers four approaches to meet our patients varying needs. Depending on the nature of your dental treatment, you may desire one approach for a particular appointment and a different technique for another appointment.
Nitrous oxide is an odorless gas, which is effective in relieving mild apprehension. You are fully awake and coherent throughout the appointment. Since nitrous oxide is effective only while you are inhaling the gas, this is the only technique that allows patients to safely drive after their appointment.
Oral Sedatives with Nitrous Oxide
The effects of nitrous oxide can be significantly intensified with the addition of oral medications. You arrive about an hour prior to your appointment and receive the medication at our office while relaxing in one of our treatment areas. When the appointment is ready to begin, nitrous oxide is added to produce the desired level of relaxation.
Moderate Anesthesia Care (MAC)
This technique allows strong sedatives and pain medications to be delivered directly into your body through your arm. For your safety, your heart and breathing will be monitored throughout the appointment. While most patients have little or no memory of the appointment, you will be able to hear and respond to simple instructions, such as opening your mouth. This technique is widely used in hospitals for procedures such as endoscopies.
General Anesthesia / Deep Sedation
General anesthesia allows patients to receive dental treatment while being unconscious as in an operating room. Because monitoring the patient is so important, a second doctor (an anesthesiologist), will assist with the appointment.
We consider addressing your dental fears an important component of treating your dental needs. Let us discuss your needs by scheduling an appointment today.
Larry J. Sangrik, D.D.S.