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How to Overcome Dental Anxiety

Over 40 million Americans experience dental anxiety.

If you’re one of them, know you aren’t alone! Dental anxiety may lead you to avoid the recommended twice-yearly visits to the dentist. This relaxed approach to oral health often leads to more complex issues. Sticking with your regular appointments, as scary as it may be, can actually make your visits easier to handle.

In today’s blog post, we cover sedation dentistry and offer three tips to help you ease your dental anxiety.  

Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry does more than just calm your fears. It also eases the pain felt during treatment and allows your dentist to complete multiple procedures during a single visit, saving you both unnecessary discomfort and time. It is particularly beneficial for patients who need advanced treatments like bone grafting, dental implants, or a full-smile makeover. 

With sedation dentistry, you will be alert and awake but feel relaxed and comfortable during your visit. The type of sedation used depends on your personal goals, your treatment plan, and your medical history. Options include:

  • Nitrous oxide: Administered through a nasal mask, nitrous oxide makes patients feel at ease during their treatment. Once the mask is removed, the effects immediately disappear, allowing patients to safely drive themselves and resume their daily schedule. 
  • Oral conscious sedation: This approach is taken in pill form prior to your scheduled appointment time. Unlike the nitrous oxide mask, the effects linger, and you will require a companion to take you to and from treatment.

Tips to Ease Dental Anxiety

If you’d like to handle your nerves without medical intervention, here are three helpful strategies to consider.

  • Use your voice: Don’t be afraid to share how you’re feeling! Once you speak your fears out loud, you may feel better simply because you shared them. Ask questions too. A better understanding of your treatment options can make a big difference. Additionally, your dental team may be able to better treat your specific needs. Be sure to mention your dental anxiety when you make your appointment and again when you arrive at the office. You can also discuss your previous experiences with your dentist and ask for their advice. You can even agree on a signal, like raising your hand, to let your dentist know if you need a break. 
  • Practice mindfulness: There are various mindfulness techniques you can practice to stay calm. Take slow and steady breaths: in for four counts, hold for four counts, out for four counts, and hold for four counts. You can also do a body scan and concentrate on relaxing your muscles as you move from your head to your toes. Or you can simply imagine your happy place, focusing on the sights, sounds, and smells. 
  • Distract yourself: If you can’t focus on a breathing exercise or meditation, try another method of distraction. You can bring headphones and listen to an audiobook, podcast, or favorite playlist. Your dentist may also have a television on the ceiling; you can ask if they’re able to play a show or movie you enjoy. You can also channel some of your nervous energy by playing with a stress ball or fidget spinner.

Visiting Maitland Ave. Smile Co.

Visiting the dentist can be stressful — but it doesn’t have to be! At Maitland Ave. Smile Co. in Altamonte Springs, we practice compassionate dentistry and place a high priority on our patients’ comfort. Our team will explain each step of your treatment, ensuring that you have a chance to ask questions and discuss any concerns. We will help you make educated and informed decisions, encouraging you to take a proactive role in your oral health care. 

We hope you always leave with a healthy and beautiful smile!

Check out our Dental Blog for posts about sensitive teeth, the impact of stress on oral health, and more. If you need a dentist in Altamonte Springs, FL, schedule an appointment at Maitland Ave. Smile Co. today!