Dental Anxiety In My Practice
Welcome to my blog! I’m Dr. Jordan Wall, a dentist in Wortley Village, and today it’s all about dental anxiety. If you have anxiety about dental care, let me affirm you – it’s as real as any physical barrier.
Let’s just put it out there right off the bat, and establish that if you experience feelings of intensity that bring you to tears even, you are not a baby. The fact is that whether you have anxiety or not, your needs must be met. If you need a filling, you need a filling whether you have anxiety or not. Anxiety can make people feel less-than or powerless, and we, as humans, don’t like to portray this. We often think, “It can be embarrassing.”, “We don’t like to be seen this way.”, or “I’m not this way when I’m not at the dentist”.
Certain situations may bring anxiety to some individuals. It seems that talking about trends on anxiety may be helpful for some patients, however, some situations that may involve very personal triggers shall also be addressed. This is why having the conversation about anxiety between my patients and I is so important as we tend to go beyond merely the four walls of the clinic. While people behave in ways that suggest their anxiety, no physical characteristic can let me, a caregiver, measure the person’s anxiety level – it’s not like the size of one’s nose is correlated to the intensity of their emotions. Only the patients themselves know their feelings.
If there is a modification I can do to help a person get through their care appointment, often it involves a strategy that allows them to establish a sense of control.
Covering the following items often brings some level of assurance (if assurance is possible):
1. Identify what part of the procedure is peak intensity for you. For example, some people find the freezing the most difficult part, while others don’t like the sound. For some, it’s everything.
2. Establish a signal that means ‘stop’, such as having the person raise his or her left hand, and give the signal before the feelings become too intense. I would always give my patients a moment before they become overwhelmed. One technique I sometimes use is to count for 5 or 10 seconds while drilling especially if this is the part that is too intense for them. This allows them to know when they will get a break, and this awareness can lessen anxiety.
3. Establish how much or little detail you want to know. For some, knowing what is happening eases tension, while for others, it elevates it.
And then there is the conversation surrounding sedation. The only criteria for sedation is if you feel you want it – or need it for that matter. The end.
At my office, I offer conscious sedation modes – you are awake but sedated and are feeling good. For you who need deeper sedation, we can arrange this for you. I have noticed that people who use sedation often feel a reduced anxiety of the anticipation of their appointments because they no longer worry about how they will make it through.