When did you last have your dental checkup? Oral health experts recommend visits to the dentist at least twice a year. These sessions can help one identify areas of improvement for their oral health.
However, many people think that if something is not broken, there is no need to fix anything. This is why it is common for many to forego their routine dental appointments. In 2019, only 64.9 percent of the American population made a trip to the dentist.
Some believe that they can get away with a dentist’s appointment as long as they brush their teeth. Oral health is not limited to just brushing and flossing. Skipping dentist appointments for more than six months can cause serious health risks.
Moreover, the state of your oral health can dictate your overall health. Poor oral hygiene can trigger heart problems, bone loss, diabetes, and lung disease. Oral inflammations can further complicate pre-existing conditions.
These health implications should at least convince you to book a dentist’s appointment. But if you’re still not comfortable doing so, what could be the problem? You might say you’re busy, or you might have other reasons.
Dental anxiety hinders a person from having optimal oral health. This happens when people delay visits to the dentist due to fears of dental operations. This could range from skipping a dental-cleaning session to foregoing important procedures.
According to a study, there is a high number of adults who experience dental anxiety. The same study mentioned that three to 16% of adults have dental phobia. Dental phobia refers to the extreme fear of dental procedures.
Many factors can cause dental anxiety. Some patients have had bad experiences with dentists. Others are fearful of the possible pain that dental procedures bring. Environmental reasons could also cause dental anxiety.
Some patients have dental anxiety because they do not want to know the real state of their oral health. Some feel uncomfortable knowing that they have cavities. Others are fearful that they are already facing oral complications.
When there’s no way out, dental anxiety or phobia can be professionally addressed. The patient must inform their dentist that they have dental anxiety. Communicating negative feelings can help the dentist find ways to ease discomfort.
What are coping techniques that can relieve dental anxiety? Dentists recommend guided meditation and progressive muscle relaxation to ease the patient’s anxiety. Hypnosis is another technique that other dentists perform on their patients.
Dental anxiety or phobia can be crippling. Luckily, some techniques can help ease these negative feelings. Here are some examples. For extreme cases of dental phobia, sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy can help. But other techniques include general anesthesia, happy gas analgesic, and conscious sedation.
A dentist and an anesthesiologist usually do general anesthesia
This causes the patient to be fully asleep while in operation. This can be a short-term option, but it does not help the patient get over their anxiety.
People who go for general anesthesia might feel nauseous after. It can also cause a longer time for recovery, especially for major oral operations. Patients will also feel sleepier even after the medicine has worn off.
Conscious or IV sedation is usually performed by a dentist or another professional. When under IV sedation, patients might feel drowsy. Others drift to a light sleep but can still respond when asked questions.
Root canal and wisdom tooth surgery patients would often receive this sedation technique. However, not all patients can take this sedation. This could be risky for those with medications that can interfere with sedatives.
Happy gas analgesic or nitrous oxide helps relax a patient while receiving treatment. Patients wear face-fitting masks that will allow them to breathe the gas. It can wear off in a few minutes.
While this technique allows patients to feel relaxed, patients will remain conscious. Some patients forget the procedure a few hours after they receive nitrous oxide. Some people believe this is a great way to calm down during a dental procedure.
Feeling a certain level of anxiety before a visit to the dentist can be normal. However, if anxiety hinders one from receiving proper treatment, it can be harmful. Healthy coping mechanisms can help one overcome dental anxiety or phobia.
If in doubt, do not be afraid to approach your dentist before the appointment. They will gladly recommend treatments to ease your worries. You can also seek counseling to help you overcome your fear of dental procedures.