I’ll never forget the day my father told me he had broken a tooth. I knew he was in pain but kept making excuses as to why he couldn’t come to the office. I was looking forward to giving back to the man who had given so much to me, but he was absolutely terrified. My father finally told me that when he was a child, his dentist sat him in down, strapped his arms to the dental chair, and went to work. The thought of entering a dental office, even with me, brought back horrid memories. He was suffering from dental phobia.
A dental phobia is the fear of dentistry and receiving dental care and it comes in varying extremes. For most, dental phobia is simply nervousness about visiting the dentist, but for others even thinking about a trip to the dentist can paralyze them with fear, leaving some unable to seek dental care. Dental phobias, that arise from a variety of sources including a traumatic dental experience (much like my father’s), negative news stories or a perceived lack of control, are much more common than you may think. It is believed that 15% of all Americans – about 40 million people – avoid much needed care due to anxiety and fear surrounding the dental experience. Here at Smileboston Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry we’ve seen extreme cases. I remember one patient who was unable to even walk past the reception desk. He came into the office and sat in the reception area and just observed. He is still a patient today.
The good news is that it is no longer necessary to associate the dental chair with pain, discomfort or anxiety. At Smileboston, our entire clinical team is trained in techniques to minimize discomfort during treatment. Conscious Sedation (http://www.smileboston.com/whatwedo/conscious_sedation.php), nitrous oxide, Valium treatment, soothing music, and other types of relaxation techniques, allow you to receive the dental care you need and want – comfortably. Conscious/Oral Sedation or ‘sleep dentistry’, is a great option for many individuals for most procedures, and when used in conjunction with the dental laser, the experience and outcome is extremely positive. Oral sedation is administered through a small pill taken orally and creates feelings of relaxation while eliminating anxiety. The medication is traditionally administered an hour prior to the appointment. Throughout the course of treatment, the patient can answer questions and follow direction and is ‘awakened’ from ‘sleep’ by juice or sugary food. A good night sleep should follow, with a feeling of rest and relaxation in the morning. Individuals with a history of medication or alcohol concerns should consult their physician prior to use of conscious sedation.
Discuss your concerns and options with the Smileboston team and together, we will figure out the option that is right for you.