Lots of people have anxiety about going to the dentist. This anxiety can develop in childhood or even later as an adult. Sometimes the trigger is a negative or uncomfortable experience. The good news is that current methods of dentistry have greatly reduced the amount of pain or discomfort you will feel during procedures. Also, dentists have become more patient-centred and aware of anxiety issues.
One big improvement has come in the needles that are used for local anesthetic. Today’s needles are much thinner and release their numbing medicine much more slowly, making this process more comfortable for you. Some dentists also use a topical anesthetic in gel form to numb the injection site beforehand. You may also receive nitrous oxide (sometimes called “laughing gas”) or even intravenous medicines to help you relax during complex or lengthy procedures.
Beyond medicines for pain or anxiety, distraction may also be helpful to you. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can listen to music or watch television if you feel like it will help you. You will probably find that your dentist’s office is decorated with relaxation in mind. There may be water features or calming colours surrounding you.
Ultimately, your dentist should be someone you can talk with about your anxiety. If you find that your dentist doesn’t seem to care about your fears or preferences, it may be time to find a new one. Talk to your dentist about what to expect before a procedure begins, agree on a signal that will tell your dentist that you need to take a break, and don’t forget to breathe!