by Dr. Anson Hooper, DDS, Hooper Family Dental
Relaxation in any facet of life can be challenging to find, but a visit to the dentist can often induce a different level of anxiety than we experience on a daily basis.
When we are faced with a challenge or something we’re afraid of, such as a visit to the dentist, our bodies produce a chemical response that can heighten our emotions and invoke an amplified response.
However, we can train our bodies to work against this anxiety by learning some relaxation techniques.
If you are a mother, you may have learned some relaxation techniques in childbirth classes. In fact, yoga and meditation work well, too, and by practicing these skills at home we are able to better use them in strenuous situations.
As dentists, one of the main relaxation techniques we rely on for patients with dental anxiety is simply communicating with them. In my experience, a lot of people fear the unknown, which can produce dental anxiety. As a dentist, communicating each step of the appointment or procedure can be helpful in easing nerves.
While these methods are a great starting point for most of us, others need a bit more mediation to achieve the same level of relaxation. The following are some of the options used within dentistry to help patients achieve the relaxation they are looking for:
Nitrous oxide: Administered as a gas, this is the best approach for people with mild dental anxiety.
Oral sedation: Taken in a tablet form, this provides more anxiety relief. Patients take the tablet before they come to the office so they feel relaxed by the time they get to the office.
IV sedation: As the name states, this is administered intravenously and the most powerful option for people with high levels of anxiety.
With the right communication and/or use of these adjunctive techniques, even the most stressful of dental visits can be mitigated. In the end, prevention of these situations by practicing good oral hygiene and scheduling routine cleanings is the best way to go!