For many people, an upcoming visit to the dentist’s office presents a whole host of negative thoughts and anxiety. Some patients have memories of a bad past experience with a toothache, or a procedure. Others may simply react to the sounds and sights of the dentist’s office – the high-pitched whine of the dental drill or a light shining in their eyes while they recline in the chair.
No matter what triggers your dental anxiety, your oral health is too important to let fear keep you from getting dental care.
So much of what happens in your mouth is connected to your systemic health. In fact, according to the Academy of General Dentistry more than 90% of all systemic diseases, like diabetes and cancer as well as kidney and heart disease, also have oral symptoms like mouth ulcers, dry mouth,and gum issues.
It may seem easier to avoid going to the dentist’s office, but it isn’t a good practical health strategy. Okay, so now what? Dr. Meriem Boukadoum, our dentist at 54th Street Dental, offers some helpful tips for dealing with dental anxiety.
A good first step to facing your dental anxiety is simply to accept that you aren’t alone — far from it. According to research, 50-80% of all American adults suffer from some form of dental anxiety, ranging from mild to severe.
Up to 15% of these anxious patients skip visiting the dentist altogether, even for routine checkups and professional cleanings. But don’t join this group! Your six-month cleanings are actually the key to preventing dental issues down the road, so come in to see us for these low-key visits.
This next tip is key: Own up to your anxiety and share your concerns with us. While you may be embarrassed about your dental anxiety, know that our only concerns are your oral health and your comfort while you’re in our office. Dr. Boukadoum doesn’t judge you. She just wants to help you maintain optimal oral health so you’ll have a healthy smile.
As is the case with any other medical professional, you need to feel comfortable speaking freely with us. You can always ask questions about your treatment options. Playing a more central role in your oral health will help make you feel more in control and calmer.
Another way you can tackle your dental fear is to engage in a good distraction. If you know that the common sounds of a dentist’s office gets under your skin, consider wearing noise-cancelling headphones or listen to your favorite tunes with ear buds.
We have comfortable chairs with built-in massage to distract you and help you relax. If tooth sensitivity is part of your anxiety, we can provide options to help with that.
Here at 54th Street Dental, patients who suffer from dental anxiety can opt for nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or request oral sedation to keep them calm and relaxed during their treatments. Nitrous oxide works quickly to help you feel calm during your procedure. Afterward, when the effects wear off and you’re totally alert, you can usually drive yourself home.
Oral sedation is the most common sedation approach used in dentist’s offices across the United States. With oral sedation, you take a sedative that lasts throughout the procedure. While you’re awake and conscious during the procedure, feelings like apprehension or anxiety just don’t register. If you have oral sedation, you’ll need someone to drive you home afterward.
If you suffer from dental anxiety, our compassionate and experienced dental team is here to help. To schedule an appointment, use the online booking tool or call our office in the Midtown West neighborhood of New York City.