Is Fear of the Dentist Real?

We have all seen movies or television shows that present a dental office as a scary place. Children kick and scream; adults dig their fingers into chairs. While it may be an exaggeration for some, it is a common theme because it can be a massive ordeal for others. 

You may not be a person that fears the dentist at all. And, it might seem like the movies blow the whole idea of fearing the dentist out of proportion. However, there are many people who have a great deal of anxiety about visiting the dentist. Some patients may only feel unease about their dental appointments, especially if they have a tricky procedure. Other patients may not be able to make their appointments at all because they are too anxious. 

Dental anxiety is an actual condition that can get in the way of your oral health. Luckily, there are some ways that a dentist can help. 

woman receiving sedation for dental anxiety dentist in Knoxville Tennessee

Sedation Options

For patients that have anxiety about their procedures, there are sedation options that your dentist can provide. 

One form of sedation is oral conscious sedation. If you talk to your dentist before your appointment, they may be able to prescribe a sedative for you to take at home. This sedative is in pill form, so you can take it before your scheduled appointment. You will need a trusted person to drive you to and from your procedure. This is because you cannot drive while under this form of sedation. It takes several hours for this sedative to wear off. Taking this sedative before you arrive will ensure that you are completely relaxed before seeing your dentist. 

Nitrous oxide is another sedation option. Nitrous oxide or “laughing gas” is the type of sedation you may see in movies or on television. A dentist will place a mask or nasal cannula under your nose to administer nitrous oxide. The patient will feel the effects immediately. Unlike oral sedation, nitrous oxide wears off quickly. Therefore, you can drive home immediately following your appointment. 

Talk to Your Dentist

If sedation doesn’t seem right or isn’t enough, try talking to your dentist. You may be surprised at how much your dentist can put your fears at ease by walking you through your procedure. Fear of the unknown can cause your anxiety. Discussing your concerns with your dentist can be very helpful for you and your dentist. If they are aware of your worries, they can proceed in a way that keeps you calm. 

Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist to tell you what they are doing as they clean or whiten your teeth. If you have a more complicated procedure–a filling or an extraction, get your dentist to explain each step to you before the appointment begins. A good dentist understands their patient’s needs and does their best to make them comfortable. Dental anxiety is very common, so your dentist is equipped to put you at ease.