For some patients with dental fears, finding a sympathetic practitioner is the beginning of a happier relationship with the dentist’s chair (as it leads to a greater understanding of the facts behind the dental fears). However, for other patients, the nicest dentist in the world can’t really allay dental fears. If you fall into this category, it is worth considering the following five treatments for dental fears.
1) Distraction-based treatments
Many dental offices are equipped with the ability to let patients watch or listen to some form of entertainment during treatment. If you can shift your focus to your favorite music or an intriguing movie, you might find that your dental fears start to die down (and eventually dissipate).
Your dentist may be willing to do ‘dry runs’ of treatments to help to reduce your dental fears by making the experiences associated with the procedure more routine. For example, you may have the chance to practice breathing with a rubber dam, or your dentist might let you touch and learn about some of the equipment that will be used (thereby demystifying it).
3) ‘The Wand’
For dental fears associated with needles, a device called a Dental Wand can be used to ensure that the shot is controlled by a computer (ensuring a slow, steady pace that should be painless). As a bonus, the equipment helps to minimize dental fears because it looks much less intimidating than a lone syringe held in a gloved hand.
4) Oral sedation
Anti-anxiety and sedative drugs (usually benzodiazepines) can help to reduce your dental fears by inhibiting your ability to feel anxious, increasing you sense of well-being and making you feel somewhat drowsy. While they may not be safe for you to use if you have certain health problems (e.g. heart problems or impaired liver function), your dentist will be able to assess your suitability.
5) IV sedation
Dental fears can also be tackled by drugs administered directly into your blood stream during a procedure. You will be extremely relaxed, and time will seem to pass extremely quickly (as IV sedatives typically induce full of partial amnesia).