How Anxious patients can relax in the dentist’s chair

One of the biggest reasons many avoid going to the dentist is anxiety. Dentists recognize this and now specialize in treatment methods to help patients overcome their anxiety with much success.

Some patients are more forth coming about dental anxiety than others and some may not even know a treatment cause them anxiety until they are going through certain procedures. Dentists can help by recognizing stress and anxiety early on by watching behaviors, listening for certain dialog or by providing a questionnaire. Since many dental treatments are crucial, there are methods to help ease their discomfort so patients do not avoid appointments.

The number one thing any dentist wants to provide is trust.

A dentist can have patients fill out a specific form that contains details about their health status, past treatments and how they were handled and other questions related to issues. Comfort levels and pain tolerances can be approached here as well.

Patient dialog involves the experienced dentist asking specific questions while attentively listening to answers and watching body language. A patient’s behaviour (including posture, clenching of their hands, sweating, tapping of the feet, and increased breathing) can indicate a need for additional help.

Informed dentists make an effort to provide a relaxed and comfortable environment.  The interior decorating, interior design to dampen noise and to the music they choose inside their offices all help assuage patient’s fears. Today dentists offer many gentle and pain-free treatments such as numbing agents to help with needle fears. By numbing the injection area with an anesthetizing cream or spray they help minimize pain and reduce the potential sudden movement a patient may do when a needle is administered.

When these methods are utilized and the patient is still exhibiting discomfort and anxiety, sedation therapy can help. A consultation is best to discuss what this involves so the patient can have a full understanding of what this type of therapy is and how it can benefit them during an appointment.

What is sedation therapy?

The term sedation is derived from the Latin word “sedare” which means to calm. This calming method uses medicine to dampen the nervous system to alleviate pain while creating a relaxed state. Often referred as conscious sedation can be given in several ways:

  • Inhaling a gasNitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas) is mixed with oxygen and delivered through a small mask over the nose. As the gas begins to work, the patient will become less agitated and nervous. The effects of nitrous oxide are mild and it is safe and quickly eliminated from the body. The patient remains awake and can continue to interact with the dentist. When the gas is turned off, the effects will wear off very quickly and the dentist will give the patient oxygen for a few minutes after treatment to flush the body of any remaining gas. You will need help to get home and you will need someone to monitor you after sedation therapy at the dentist.
  • Oral sedation: Medicine can be given in the form of a syrup or a pill. The patient may be sleepy but can be aroused easily and can respond to simple commands. Minor side effects can include nausea or vomiting from these medicines depending on your tolerance. You will receive instructions to follow (such as what to eat or drink before the procedure) and information on what to expect during and after a treatment before your appointment. 
  • Receiving medicine through an injection or intravenously: In some cases a patient needs to be unconscious during a procedure such as a tooth extraction (like the removal of wisdom teeth). This procedure is typically done at the hospital. Special needs patients and those requiring a lot of work also benefit from this method. It’s best to set up a meeting with an anethesiaoligist to discuss the procedure and to answer your questions. 

The most important thing is to that dentists are making every effort to ensure all patients are comfortable with all procedures. T A happy and relaxed patient means fewer missed appointments and a healthy mouth for years to come.