Dental Anxiety Treatment in NYC
Dental anxiety is common and keeps many patients from seeking the care they need. Often, anxious patients wait until they’re having an emergency, which results in more extensive treatment. Our goal is to help anxious patients get the routine care they need in a relaxed and comfortable setting.
At Gallery57Dental we are sensitive to the anxiety many patients experience. Our spacious modern office and friendly compassionate staff help patients relax and feel confident about their needs being met.
How common is dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety is anything but rare. Although there aren’t a ton of statistics out there, it’s estimated that from 10 to 20 percent of Americans avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear.
The extreme level on this scale would be a dental phobia. If a person has dental phobia, they will do everything possible to NOT go to the dentist. For those with this unfortunate situation, the only time they will usually go to the dentist is if they are in extreme pain. In the dental world, that means the person’s dental health has gone south. Pain is usually tied to decay entering the interior pulp chamber of a tooth where it is impacting the nerve fibers in the pulp. Now the tooth will need a root canal just to save it from extraction.
Dental anxiety and fear keep patients from receiving the preventive care they need, and that’s truly unfortunate because most dental problems never need to really take hold if they are addressed early on.
Why Do I have Dental Anxiety?
People have dental anxiety for a wide variety of reasons. The most common fears that patients express include thoughts of discomfort, gagging or choking, or receiving the injection of local anesthetic. Sometimes, these all combine to exaggerate fearful thoughts. These fears are quite understandable. Additional triggers of dental anxiety include the stimulation that occurs due to the sounds of the dental drill or the natural tension that arises when another person is in close proximity to the face. Receiving dental care can also involve a sense of loss of control.
While it can be helpful to understand what's behind dental anxiety, this understanding doesn't magically resolve the issue. You may know that you fear seeing the dentist because you're worried that you'll be embarrassed about the condition of your oral health (especially if you've avoided receiving dental care for many years. The next step is to talk to a trusted dentist about how your next dental visit can be made less stressful.
Who Tends to Get Dental Anxiety?
Research has determined that there are certain groups of people who tend to struggle with dental anxiety. These include the following:
- Children. Dental anxiety is common among young children, understandably so. To a child, every dental experience is new. New means unknown, and the unknown naturally brings up a sense of fear. In this scenario, a parent's attitude toward the child's anxiety and also toward dentistry can have a significant impact.
- The extent of treatment. Patients who require more complex treatment are sometimes more anxious. It makes sense that you might feel more nervous before getting a dental implant than you would before getting a filling. More extensive treatment is often needed when a person has neglected routine exams and cleanings for many years. In this scenario, a thorough explanation of dental treatment coupled with a heaping dose of compassion for missed dental care can ease feelings of fear.
- Physical or emotional conditions. Dental anxiety can be a big problem for people with a strong gag reflex. Sitting in a dental chair may be uncomfortable for people with muscular disorders or other conditions that make it difficult to sit still. Patients with a history of trauma may also be adversely affected by dental anxiety.
- Bad experiences. By and large, a history of poor dental care can have a massive effect on a person's attitude toward dentistry. If you've received dental care that hurt or didn't achieve good results, you may benefit from a meaningful conversation with the dentist during which you can express your needs for pain relief, treatment speed, aftercare support, and more.
Can My Dental Anxiety go away on Its Own?
There are several ways to approach the management of dental anxiety. With a well-rounded approach, there is hope that, at some point, feelings of debilitating anxiety may resolve. This can take time. It also takes a lot of very good communication between yourself and your dental team. Here at Gallery 57 Dental, we also turn to mild dental sedation to help. If you've been avoiding setting dental appointments because fear steps in and stops you, give us a call. This one baby step can be the one that makes all the difference! It can open up the conversation that needs to be had; the one in which you discuss your concerns and how your dental anxiety shows up, and the one in which we can provide you with the peace of mind you deserve. We'll seek to do that by telling you how we can help address your fears with and even beyond dental sedation. Examples include explaining each step of your treatment process, using strategies like wearing headphones, and more.
Dental Sedation Options
At Gallery 57, we offer both oral sedation and nitrous oxide (laughing gas). You can add these to any treatment or procedure we offer, anything from routine cleaning and exam to placing a filling or a bridge. There are no restrictions when it comes to sedation and treatment. We don’t use general (sleep) anesthesia, so you’re sedated but able to communicate and respond to our requests. Our sedation options have the side benefit of having an amnesiac affect, so anxious patients don’t have much if any, recollection of their visit to our offices.
For patients who are anxious about injections, we offer the Solea Laser which can be used for most small to medium fillings and doesn’t require a shot!
What medications are used for oral sedation?
Anti-anxiety medications are typically used for oral dental sedation. These include Valium, Ativan, Halcion, Ambien, and others.
What are the signs that I have dental anxiety?
Dental anxiety and dental phobia are related. The difference is simply the degree of anxiety the person feels at the thought of an upcoming dental appointment. These are some signs that you have at least some amount of anxiety:
- You have trouble sleeping the night before your appointment.
- You have feelings of nervousness that seem to build as you’re in the waiting room.
- You have some physical feelings or sensations as your appointment approaches.
- You have feelings of uneasiness at the thought of having items such as a dental pick placed in your mouth.
What do I need to tell Gallery 57 when I make my appointment?
If you have dental anxiety, we want you to tell us about it. There isn’t any need to be shy or reticent about this — as mentioned above, about one in five people have some level of dental anxiety, so you are in good company.
Once we know of your situation, we can plan for it. If you want an oral sedative, that will take some time to fully take effect, so we need to plan for that with your appointment. If you want a combination of oral sedation and nitrous oxide, we need to plan to have that available, as well.
The key is for you to be comfortable while here at Gallery 57 Dental. That way you can receive the treatment you need without feeling anxious about it.
How long does oral sedation last?
For most patients, the effects of oral sedation last from two to four hours after their appointment. You need a ride to and from your appointment, plus shouldn’t drive for an additional 12 hours. That’s not usually a problem in New York, but at least that’s the commonsense rule.
How long does nitrous oxide last?
One of the cool aspects of nitrous oxide is that as soon as the mask is taken away the effect almost instantly goes away. That’s helpful, as patients can add nitrous oxide to their appointment, but they can still drive themselves home afterward (or comfortably get on the subway).
What Our Patients Have to Say
Can I have sedation with any dental procedure or only surgery?
We can provide sedation for any procedure. If you’re anxious about having something as simple as your teeth cleaned, there is no reason for that. Simply ask for sedation, and you’ll feel relaxed and without worry.
Can you feel any pain during sedation dentistry?
There is a little misconception here. Sedation is not anesthesia. Sedation has the goal of helping the patient overcome his or her anxiety or fear that they associate with the dentist. Sedation has the pleasant side benefit of usually also creating an amnesia-like effect, so the patient has little or no memory of their appointment.
Anesthesia is what keeps you comfortable and pain-free. Modern dental anesthesia ensures our patients at Gallery 57 Dental don’t feel anything during any of our treatments.
We also work with mental health professionals who can help patients overcome severe anxiety.