• Meavy Way Dental Practice

Overcoming dental anxiety

Dental anxiety or odontophobia is a very common obstacle for many patients worried about their dental health. Many patients avoid crucial visits to the dentist due to odontophobia. The anxiety can manifest in various forms, ranging from mild psychological discomfort to debilitating anxiety or panic attacks. Patients who experience serious odontophobia can enter a vicious cycle, as the avoidance of necessary dental treatments can make existing conditions more severe, resulting in more complicated treatments and being forced into potential emergency dental procedures. If you experience the following symptoms, you are likely to have odontophobia:

  1. Inability to sleep and/or sweating the night preceding a dental examination

  2. Other general anxiety symptoms, such as elevated heart rate or dry mouth

  3. Catastrophic thoughts about the procedures

  4. Neglecting oral health due to fear of dentists or dental procedure

  5. Inducible anxiety by the sound of dental drills

Sedation for relieving anxiety during dental procedures

A dentist in Plymouth offers 2 types of sedation for its patients to help relieve their possible anxiety, and help them get the treatment they need. During sedation the patients enter a relaxed, dream-like state and may lose consciousness, and fall asleep. The first type of it used by a dentist in Plymouth is intravenous sedation, where the sedative drug is administered through a vein in a controlled way to maintain sedation. The applied drug is usually midazolam, propofol, ketamine or dexmedetomidine. The second type is sedation by inhalation, which is performed by placing a small mask on the patients’ nose and mouth, allowing them to inhale a mixture of a sedating gas (nitrous-oxide) and oxygen. During this you will remain conscious, however you will experience a state of peacefulness and relaxation. The sedation performed by the dentist in Plymouth is useful for many patients, but it doesn't fit everyone: it is crucial to let your dentist and anesthesiologist know about any prescription drugs you are taking or chronic/acute conditions you are experiencing, such as any known allergies or intolerances.

Practices for overcoming dental anxiety before the procedures

It is important to know where the individual fear is rooted, as this can help in rationalising and easing it, or mitigating the specific cause.

Odontophobia is often related to the following causes:

• feeling ashamed due to poor oral health • the fear of dental treatment associated pain • the fear of losing control • fear related to negative experiences in the past

There are many efficient ways of overcoming dental anxiety. One of these is practicing slow, mindful breathing or breathing techniques designed to relieve stress, such as the pursed lip breathing, where exhaling slowly through a pursed lip stimulates the vagus nerve, utilising your body’s natural mechanisms to ease anxiety. It is important to know that the first visit to a dentist usually does not come with any treatment, it is mainly an examination. This is an excellent opportunity to get to know your dentist and lessen your fears. Another important notion is that dentists use highly efficient local anaesthetics, which means that patients often only perceive a sense of pressure rather than pain.

Regardless of the cause, odontophobia is a condition that has to be taken seriously, as severe cases can seriously impair the quality of life, and it is a problem that affects a significant part of our society.