3 Ways to Relieve Dental Anxiety

Aug 01, 2023

3 Ways to Relieve Dental Anxiety

They say the eyes are a window to the soul — we say your teeth and gums are a window to your overall health. Oral health problems have been linked to serious, sometimes life-threatening, conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even premature birth. 

But we understand that even threats to your overall health aren’t enough to overcome dental anxiety. 

 More than one-third of Americans struggle with some degree of dental anxiety. Whether it’s the sound of the tools, the smell of chemicals, or the anticipation of pain, we know that dental anxiety can be crippling and keep you from getting the care your teeth and gums need. 

For that reason, we prioritize helping our patients with dental anxiety find ways to cope with their fears. In this blog, our team of experienced and compassionate dentists at Lifetime Dental Care in Woodbridge, Virginia, discusses a few ways we’ve helped folks just like you overcome the hurdle of dental anxiety.   

1. Communicate early and often

The first step in overcoming dental anxiety is talking about it. We specialize in dental anxiety, so you won’t shock us when you tell us about your concerns. Once we know you have concerns, we create a game plan to provide the best care possible, which includes: 

  • Explaining every procedure in detail 
  • Scheduling shorter appointments
  • Developing a relationship of trust  

We’ve built a reputation for being gentle and understanding, so you can rest assured that your dental anxiety is in the best hands possible. 

2. Distract and relax

It’s not a bad idea to bring a distraction to your appointments. You might listen to music, an audiobook, or a podcast through headphones, or bring a friend or relative along — as long as it doesn’t interfere with our work, we welcome and encourage it. 

You may also consider employing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and positive visualization. Some of our patients take a few moments in their car or our waiting room to mentally and emotionally prepare.   

We’re here to support and accommodate you and whatever you need to do to relax. 

3. Consider sedation dentistry

Sometimes, we need to take relaxation to the next level. In that case, we turn to sedation dentistry. Sedation dentistry is safe for adults and children, and we tailor the dosage and process to accommodate each patient’s exact needs.  

 We offer three main types of sedation. Here’s a closer look at each. 

Nitrous oxide (laughing gas)

We administer nitrous oxide through a mask, which takes almost immediate effect once you begin inhaling it. The gas completely relaxes you without putting you to sleep, allowing you to stay calm while we work.   

When we’re done working, we push oxygen through the mask to help the effects wear off quickly. In a matter of minutes, you feel like yourself again, but with cleaner teeth. 

Oral sedation

With oral sedation, you take a fast-acting drug that reduces your anxiety and deadens your response to pain. Depending on the nature of your procedure, we may ask you to take the pill the night before or a few hours before your appointment.   

Oral sedation doesn’t knock you out like general anesthesia, but you may become so relaxed that you doze off. 

General anesthesia

We recommend general anesthesia for our patients who can’t tolerate sitting in a chair or have severe anxiety. You’ll be completely unconscious and wake up with no memory of the procedure.  

Dental anxiety is overwhelming and can interfere with your health and wellness goals. Now that you know you have options, don't let fear have power over you any longer. 

If you have concerns about dental anxiety, want to learn more tips and tricks, or have questions about sedation dentistry, don’t hesitate to call our office at 703-499-9779 or use our online booking tool