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Does the thought of attending a routine dental check-up fill you with dread? Did you have a bad experience at the dentist when you were younger?
While many people who are nervous about attending the dentist can trace it to one event that happened when they were younger, phobia of visiting the dentist is surprisingly common and not always due to a traumatic event.
Unfortunately, there is a correlation between fear of visiting a dentist and poorer levels of oral health. In essence, if you avoid seeing your dentist for a long enough period of time, you are more likely to suffer from dental complications, like gum disease, decay or even dental infections. Ouch!
So, what can you do?
Luckily, the days of the judgemental dentist are long gone. Many dental surgeries aim to help their most nervous patients overcome their fears by offering calming, distraction techniques while they are in the dental chair. Indeed, it is now common practice for dental surgeries across Australia, including High Dental Implants Melbourne, to even offer sedation to their most phobic patients.
But what else can be done to make that next trip to the dentist more manageable?
Many people who fear the dentist are worried due to the unfamiliarity of the situation. Indeed, very rarely in life are you asked to lay back and open your mouth, while someone looks inside – it can be extremely unnerving.
Therefore, dental practitioners will explain to you exactly what they are doing at each step of a dental check-up or other procedure, so you are informed and know what to expect.
If the noise of the surgery is the source of anxiety, many dental practices now offer headphones for patients to wear while they are in the dental chair.
These headphones often play relaxing music or calming sounds, to lower the patient’s heart rate and reduce the unpleasant physical symptoms of anxiety. Similarly, many surgeries are happy for patients to bring in their own headphones to listen to audiobooks, relaxing music or their favourite songs.
For patients who require something more than auditory distractions, there are often sedation options.
The first and most commonly used sedation type is that of inhalation based sedation. This involves a mixture of nitrous oxide being inhaled via a mask, rendering the patient able to respond to instructions given by their dental team, but after the procedure is completed, they will have no memory of the treatment. A key benefit of inhalation sedation is that the patient can usually go on with their day as they normally would afterwards, with no side effects.
For a more removed experience in the dental chair, intravenous sedation is best if the patient is extremely anxious.
Similar to inhalation sedation, the patient will be responsive, but will retain no memory of the procedure afterwards. They will need a responsible friend or family member to take them home after the procedure and should not perform certain tasks (e.g. operate heavy machinery, drive etc) for twenty-four hours.
All dental treatments carry potential risks. This article is not a substitute for a check-up with your dental practitioner.