What can you do if you experience fear of dental procedures?
What exactly is dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety, also known as odontophobia, is quite a common condition. It affects people of any age to a varying extent. Patients who experience dental anxiety experience symptoms ranging from mild psychological tension and anxiety to severe panic attacks. In serious cases of odontophobia the condition may significantly impair day-to-day life by making patients miss necessary dental appointments which can result in the subsequent worsening of symptoms and conditions. This can lead to the accumulation of serious dental conditions which can be life threatening if left without treatment. The result of the latter event is the increased likelihood of a more invasive, potentially painful, and costly treatment becoming necessary. This is known as the “vicious cycle” of dental anxiety. It is crucial to know that regardless of the severity of your dental anxiety, there are ways to manage and ease it. Spa Dental in Sydney CBD provides great treatments with kind and approachable, non-judgemental dentists, who can help ease dental anxiety.
How to know if you have odontophobia?
If you have odontophobia you may experience some of the following symptoms: sweaty palms, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, dry mouth, feelings of uneasiness, and anxiety attacks. The aforementioned symptoms may be triggered by certain sounds, thoughts, or images, such as needles, dental drills, dental practices, the thought of an upcoming dental appointment, etc. If this is the case, watching the film Marathon Man by John Schlesinger might not be a good idea.
How to manage odontophobia?
If you experience less severe odontophobia, practicing certain breathing techniques might ease your symptoms. One of these is the pursed lip breathing. This breathing technique is based on exhaling through your pursed lips, thus elongating the time spent exhaling. Pursed lip breathing combined with diffraction breathing, which is a breathing technique based on the stimulation of your vagus nerve, can help ease the symptoms of mild anxiety, and help you sleep on the night before the examination, which is very important as sleep deprivation can worsen the symptoms of anxiety. If you experience more severe symptoms of odontophobia, Spa Dental Sydney CBD offers sedation treatments. In general, two main types of sedation exist. One of them is inhalation sedation. This type of sedation uses dinitrogen oxide, also known as laughing gas colloquially, mixed with oxygen to maintain the appropriate oxygenation during the dental procedure. The other method of sedation is performed by intravenous injection of sedative drugs. By this method, a consistent blood concentration of the given drug can be maintained. During sedation you may not sleep, but enter a deep, dream-like state of relaxation which can help eliminate symptoms of anxiety. Dentists may prescribe an oral anxiolytic in certain cases, such as diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), or medazepam. These drugs are very efficient at relieving the symptoms of anxiety by enhancing the activity of certain molecular signalling pathways in the brain. In severe cases, psychotherapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) counselling and other methods can help in the long run. It is very important that if you experience dental anxiety, you should start working on the issue as soon as possible. You should make sure that you do not let dental anxiety make you miss important visits to your dentist.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.