Here’s How to Relax at the Dentist
Recent studies estimate that between nine percent and fifteen percent of Americans avoid the dentist out of fear. That’s about 30-40 million people who are not getting the dental care that they need. Telling someone to get over it and just get to the dentist because it’s good for them doesn’t work. A fear of the dentist is a legitimate fear. It’s also known as odontophobia.
Instead of just telling a person to get over it, we try to teach patients how to cope with their fears so that they don’t end up being controlled by them. So, how can you cope with your fear of the dentist and learn how to relax in the dental chair?
Bring music | Bring your iPhone and put together a playlist of your favorite empowering songs. We’ve recommended this to patients for years and have seen positive results because patients can drown out the noise of dental tools and be taken out of the dental office into the world of their music.
Watch Netflix | Similar to our suggestion to bring music, sometimes it helps for a patient to binge watch their favorite show on Netflix while they’re having work done. There’s nothing better that kicking back and enjoying a show while you’re teeth are getting the care they need.
Try breathing | Certain breathing techniques can help a person relax. And while we usually see breathing be most effective when combined with another technique, such as listening to music or watching Netflix, it can sometimes work on its own as well.
Discuss sedation options | Sedation dentistry allows the dentist to calm patients enough so that he can work on them without issue. There are various levels of sedation and the doctor will work with you to determine which would work best for your level of anxiety.
For those who absolutely cannot handle the dentist he often recommends complete sedation, where you’re completely asleep throughout the entire visit using general anesthesia. You’ll wake up without recollection of the visit, but will have nice, clean teeth.
Deep sedation is used for patients who want to be early asleep. When under this form of sedation a patient is asleep but can be shaken to wake them up.
Those who are nervous about visiting the dentist, but don’t need to be completely knocked out will oftentimes benefit from moderate sedation through nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or the use of a medication that is taken about an hour before your visit. When a patient is moderately sedated they often don’t remember the procedure and slur their words.
Finally, for those who simply need the edge taken off, minimal sedation can be used to help them relax, but still be fully awake.