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Experience stress-free dental appointments with The Tooth Doc!

If you want healthy teeth and gums that will last you a lifetime, you need to take care of your oral hygiene, which includes going to the dentist every six months. Unfortunately, dental anxiety can make routine dental appointments extremely stressful for many people, even causing some patients to avoid the dentist until a major problem forces them to go. This habit can actually worsen your anxiety since cavities and gum disease are often painless until they’re severe. This means more invasive procedures will likely be necessary to treat your teeth if you wait until you’re in pain.

It’s best for your oral health to visit the dentist regularly, but we know that this is easier said than done for many of our patients. As a result, we work hard to ensure that you feel safe and comfortable during each of your appointments at our office. Here are just a few methods we use to help make your dental appointments anxiety-free.

We listen to what you have to say.

Discussing your anxiety with Dr. Matz or Dr. Ellingson is an important step in helping us relieve your anxiety during your dental appointments. We know that each patient’s case of anxiety is unique; for example, something that sparks one patient’s anxiety, such as the sound of a drill, may not bother another patient. Similarly, there are many ways to reduce anxiety, some of which will work better for you than others.

Discussing your anxiety and what seems to spark it can help us come up with a game plan for helping you feel safe and comfortable during your appointment. You can also take this time to discuss any specific concerns you have, as well as your goals for your oral health and past experiences at the dentist. These details are a crucial part of ensuring that you get the care you need and the results you’re hoping for, all without experiencing a spike in anxiety.

We take steps to make you more comfortable.

When you discuss your anxiety with your dentist, you can also take the time to brainstorm some ways to reduce or eliminate your anxiety during your appointment. Setting up hand signals with your dentist and dental hygienist is an effective method that helps many patients feel more comfortable during their appointment. The hand signals help you communicate when you need a break, preventing you from getting overwhelmed and allowing you to recover a bit when you need it.

We also use intraoral cameras to help patients. These devices are about the size of a pen and are connected to an iPad or TV in the room, allowing you to see what your dentist is seeing. This may reduce your anxiety by taking away some of the uncertainty that you might feel during your dental appointment. You’re able to see and understand what’s going on a lot more, which may help you feel more in control during your appointments.

We help you focus on other things.

Many people see a huge reduction in their anxiety simply by redirecting their focus away from what the dentist is doing. Admittedly, that can be a little difficult during a dental appointment, but you might be surprised by just how much good music or an interesting TV show can help you relax! You can bring your earbuds and use them to listen to your favorite music or watch videos on your phone during your appointment. If you’d prefer, we can provide music or Netflix during your appointment, as well. In addition to drawing you in and giving you something else to focus on, it can help drown out the sound of dental equipment. This can make all the difference if your anxiety is worsened by the sounds of the equipment.

We put an emphasis on patient education.

You might notice that your anxiety increases when your dentist doesn’t explain why you need a treatment or what your options are. This is completely understandable! We strive to avoid this by always taking the time to explain what Dr. Matz and Dr. Ellingson have found, what your treatment options are, or what they would like you to do differently for your daily oral hygiene routine. If you would like, Dr. Matz or Dr. Ellingson can sit down and explain each step of your proposed treatment, so you understand exactly what is happening in your mouth at any given time. This helps remove an element of the unknown, and it helps you make more informed decisions about your oral health.

We offer sedation dentistry.

If you have severe dental anxiety, sedation dentistry might be a good solution for you. Although the word “sedation” probably makes you think of going to sleep for a procedure, that isn’t always what sedation dentistry entails. Laughing gas, also called nitrous oxide, is a type of sedation dentistry that keeps you conscious while working to reduce your pain and anxiety. The gas will help you relax, perhaps even making you feel a little giddy, but you’ll still be able to answer your dentists’ questions. It takes effect and wears off quickly, so you’ll most likely be able to drive yourself home, making it ideal for helping reduce your anxiety.

As with any medication, however, there are a few side effects—some more common than others—that you may experience. More common side effects include confusion and numbness or pain in your legs, but some people also experience nausea, headaches, sweating, or shivering. While it can be very helpful for many people, it’s not for everyone. If the idea of trying laughing gas makes you more anxious, it might not be a great solution for you.

Dental anxiety can be incredibly difficult to deal with, but it doesn’t have to ruin your perspective of the dentist or harm your dental health. If you have a great dentist who takes your anxiety seriously, you can work with them to find ways to reduce your anxiety. Whether you’re a new patient or a current patient who hasn’t discussed your anxiety with us yet, you can begin this process by calling our office to schedule a consultation at any time.