If you are afraid or anxious about going to the dentist, you’re not alone. According to WebMD, between 9% and 20% of Americans don’t go to the dentist as often as they should because of dental fear or anxiety. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to feel more comfortable in the dentist’s chair.
In this blog post, we explain why it’s important to let your Grand Rapids dentist know how you feel so that they can personalize your care to make your next visit less stressful. We also explain the benefits of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) for patients with dental fear or anxiety.
Why Dental Care is Important
We recommend patients see us every six months. However, this can be difficult for people with dental fear. Scheduling an appointment with a sedation dentist can help you get the dental care you need. Teeth cleanings and dental exams are important because they allow your dentist to examine your mouth and take dental x-rays. That way, they are able to detect cavities and gum disease in their early stages before they cause permanent damage to your smile.
Types of Dental Anxiety and Fear
It’s important to understand that there is a difference between dental anxiety and a dental phobia. Anxiety is mild dental fear that causes you to feel uneasy. A phobia, on the other hand, is used to describe a feeling of intense fear or dread. If you think you have either dental anxiety or a dental phobia, you should have a conversation with your dentist.
Dental fear and anxiety can range from feeling slightly nervous to having a physical reaction to entering a dental practice, such as sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat. In fact, dental anxiety can be so severe that it prevents patients from receiving dental treatments for years. Not seeing the family dentist for years can lead to untreated oral health conditions and result in costly procedures to restore teeth.
Reasons for dental fear or anxiety include:
- Fear of pain
- Fear of needles
- Fear of helplessness
- Fear of losing control
- Fear of medication or anesthetic side effects
How Nitrous Oxide is Used for Sedation Dentistry
It can be stressful trying to figure out how to deal with dental anxiety. Thankfully, more and more dentists are offering dental anxiety treatment options, such as nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide for dentistry is administered through a mask, which means there is no injection needed. Instead, you breathe through a special mask and allow a few minutes to pass before you start to feel completely relaxed.
You will be conscious throughout the entire procedure and able to cooperate with your dentist, so you don’t have to worry about feeling helpless or losing control. You also don’t have to worry about the side effects of laughing gas since nitrous oxide completely leaves your body after three minutes of taking off the mask. Keep in mind that nitrous oxide as a painkiller is most useful for minor gum treatments. You will need stronger painkillers for advanced teeth and gum treatments.
Dr. Ritzema DDS at Complete Health Dentistry is dedicated to helping patients feel comfortable seeking dental services. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with our Grand Rapids sedation dentist for your next teeth cleaning or other dental services, call our dentist in Grand Rapids at (616) 458-7267.