I’m Anxious About My Upcoming Dental Appointment

May 07, 2024
 I’m Anxious About My Upcoming Dental Appointment
Avoiding dental checkups due to anxiety puts children and adults at risk for decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. Fortunately, you can overcome dental anxiety with supportive techniques and sedation dentistry.

Many people face mild to severe dental anxiety. Nearly one in 10 children and at least half of adults fear dental visits. One in five adults skip regular checkups due to moderate anxiety. And 9-15% have such severe anxiety they never go to the dentist.

Whether you or your child feels nauseous, anxious, or downright panicky when it’s time for a checkup, our Fremaux Dental Care team can help.

We understand dental anxiety and work closely with you, offering a supportive approach that helps you overcome your fear and have a calm, pain-free dental experience.

Let’s explore four steps toward overcoming dental anxiety.

Step 1: Talk with your dental team

The first step is to talk with your dental team. Though we can tell when patients are anxious after they’re in the chair, knowing about your concerns ahead of time allows us to make a plan and help you overcome anxiety.

Step 2: Identify the reason for your dental anxiety

Though the possibility of pain often causes anxiety, it’s not the only reason people fear dental work. You may or may not know exactly why you fear dental work. Young children often can’t express their feelings. We’re here to help you get to the root cause. 

These are the most common reasons our patients feel anxious about dental care:

  • Fear of pain during dental procedures
  • Fear of needles, drills, and other instruments
  • Sensitivity to smells, noises, and sensations during dental procedures
  • Intolerance of others touching your face and mouth or instruments in your mouth
  • Difficulty breathing during dental procedures (or due to anxiety)
  • Difficulty sitting still throughout the entire exam
  • Overactive gag reflex

Even if you don’t usually fear the dentist, you may feel uneasy or have severe anxiety knowing you need a complex treatment like dental surgery or a procedure that takes longer than usual.

Step 3: Learn about tools for overcoming anxiety

The path toward overcoming anxiety depends on the patient’s age and the reason for their fears.

We recommend bringing children in to meet the staff and get comfortable with the office before scheduling a checkup. Many children are anxious about a new experience, especially if they associate the dentist with a difficult medical visit.

You should bring comfort items for yourself and your child, whether a blanket or your child’s favorite toy, streaming music on your smartphone, a stress ball, or a fidget device.

Children and adults find that their anxiety improves when we take it slow, explain the procedure, and show what to expect before doing it. We can also take short breaks to give you time to relax.

You can use many calming techniques, but sedation dentistry is the best tool for alleviating dental anxiety.

Step 4: Choose sedation dentistry

Local anesthetics aren’t sedatives, but they do a great job of eliminating pain and help many patients tolerate dental care. You don’t need to worry about discomfort when getting an anesthetic because we use topical medication to numb the area.

Our specialty dental services include three types of sedation dentistry:

Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide, a gas inhaled through a mask, works quickly, making you feel calm and relaxed. The gas leaves your body quickly after we remove the mask. Nitrous oxide is safe for people of all ages and does an exceptional job of easing anxiety for many.

Oral conscious sedation

Oral conscious sedation involves taking medication at a specific time before your appointment, giving it time to take effect before getting in the chair for your dental work. The medication dramatically reduces anxiety and dulls pain.

Though oral sedation doesn’t put you to sleep, it can make you tired, sometimes drowsy enough to doze during your dental procedure. The medication also takes time to wear off, so adults need to arrange to have another person drive them home.

Intravenous (IV) sedation

Patients with severe anxiety or dental phobia or those needing a complex procedure may require IV sedation.

The medication goes directly into your bloodstream and puts you to sleep. When you wake up, your dental work is finished, and you’ll have little or no memory of the treatment.

Call Fremaux Dental Care today or request an appointment online if you need help overcoming dental anxiety.