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I Have Dental Phobia: Can You Help?

Aug 01, 2023
Dental phobias can keep you out of the dentist’s chair so your teeth and gums don’t get the care and deep cleaning they need. Poor oral health care may lead to gum disease, tooth loss, and serious health conditions. Here’s how we help.

When you have dental phobia, you may neglect your oral health — at the peril of your overall health, too. Approximately 50-80% of adults in the United States suffer from dental anxiety or phobias. Up to 15% of people actually avoid the dentist due to their dental phobia. 

However, a fear of the dentist that’s severe enough to make you miss (or never schedule) appointments adversely affects your oral health. Eventually, that could have an impact on your general health, too, by raising your risk for heart disease and stroke. 

If you expect to have pain during a procedure, you may experience an exacerbation in your phobia. In some instances, your fear and anxiety about a procedure could cause you to gag or move, which could make the procedure take longer.

At AB Dental and Oral Surgery in San Antonio, Texas, Anthony Osei, DDS, PhD, and our caring team are experienced in helping our patients who have dental anxiety feel calm and more relaxed so they can get the oral care they need. In addition to sedation dentistry, which makes our procedures pain-free, we can help you relax before your procedure, too.

Do you have dental phobia? Here’s how we help you feel more comfortable so you can get the care you need. 

Come see us

It’s easier to feel comfortable and safe in an environment that you’re already familiar with. We welcome our patients as part of our family. If you or a family member is afraid of the dentist, we encourage you to come in and meet our team.

When your child is afraid of the dentist, we take time to make them comfortable. They can sit in the dentist’s chair and ask questions, too, to help alleviate their anxiety.

We can give you a chill pill

Even if you’re having a pain-free procedure, such as an exam and cleaning, you may still feel anxious anyway. In cases like these, we may recommend an oral sedative that you take about an hour before your procedure, while you wait in our comfortable waiting room.

The sedative calms you down so you don’t dread your time in the dentist’s chair. It also helps keep you pain-free during your procedure.

Sedation dentistry addresses more than pain

Numbing pain is just one of the advantages that each of our sedation dentistry options has. When you choose sedation dentistry for your appointment, you can expect benefits such as:

  • Relief from anxiety
  • Less sensitivity to noise
  • Better ability to sit still
  • Calming of an overactive gag reflex

If you’re super-sensitive to pain, you’re in luck. In addition to providing numbing qualities, sedation dentistry actually raises your threshold for pain, so that you’re no longer extra sensitive to stimuli.

You choose how relaxed you want to be

Some people with dental phobias actually don’t like the idea of being asleep for their procedure. In fact, that idea alone can feed into their anxiety and feelings of not being safe. That’s why we work with you to find the best sedation dentistry option. Your choices include laughing gas, oral sedation, or IV sedation.

Laughing gas

Nitrous oxide is an inhaled substance that makes you feel euphoric and calm. You’re awake after you have laughing gas. But instead of feeling anxious, you feel extremely happy and relaxed. You can even drive yourself home after the laughing gas wears off. 

Oral sedation

You take oral sedation before your procedure, which helps you relax even while you’re waiting for the dentist. Once you’re in a calm and pain-free state, you may feel sleepy and even doze off during your procedure. However, you don’t usually enter a deep state of sleep.

Oral sedation takes a while to leave your system. You need to arrange for someone to take you home.

IV sedation

If you’d rather not see or hear any part of your dental procedure, you could opt for a sedative that we administer via your bloodstream. You won’t remember your procedure at all. It’s a good choice if you have extreme anxiety. You need to arrange for a ride home.

The best way to manage your dental anxiety is to talk to us about it before your appointment. We take steps to help you feel comfortable from the time you walk in the door. We also work with your anxiety level and personal and medical history to ensure the optimal anti-anxiety care so that you get the dental work you need. 

Are you afraid of the dentist? Contact our team by phone or through our online form to learn more about our team and our sedation dentistry options.