Avoiding dental care because of anxiety or fear is not unusual. Approximately 30 to 40 million people avoid regular dental visits because of odontophobia or fear of dental care according to the Columbia Dental School. Dental phobic patients can find relief in a number of ways including both behavioral and pharmacological techniques.
Managing dental phobia through pharmacology can include IV sedation, oral anxiolysis (anti-anxiety) or oral sedation taken in pill form or using nitrous oxide or laughing gas.
Although we at Dr. Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD most commonly use nitrous oxide or anxiolysis/oral sedation, it is helpful to note that behavioral techniques are a non-threatening alternative to treat patients who need and want treatment but suffer from dental anxiety.
There are many relaxation techniques that patients can try including square breathing, where a patient deliberately slows their own breathing and makes it more difficult for their body to go into ‘panic mode.’ Another relaxation exercise is belly breathing, a technique used by patients that experience panic attacks. People who have panic attacks often experience a shortness of breath, and their first instinct is to immediately inhale. To avoid this instinct and the shallow, labored breathing that comes with it, a patient must first exhale all the air from their lungs to take a long deep breath which in turn calms and relaxes the patients. Another popular method of relaxation is the progressive muscle technique, where a patient isolates one muscle group at a time, making the muscles tense for 8 to 10 seconds and then releasing the tension to let the muscles in that group relax. Working each muscle group one-by-one allows the patient to focus on the relaxation form rather than the dental procedure. The quality of the dental experience is almost always determined by the focus of our attention.
Hypnosis and Visualization
The use of clinical hypnosis has been very helpful for those patients who fear or have an aversion to dental work. Many CDs or mp3s are available for self-hypnosis on the internet. A patient’s choice of a “hypnosis” CD is very personal, because their effectiveness may be dependent upon the sound of a speaker’s voice or the visualization that occurs throughout the CD track. So it’s always best to try the CD out before you actually buy it.
What We Can Do to Help You
If the above techniques or methods still have you nervous or anxious about your next dental treatment, ask us about the possibility of receiving a sedative for your treatment. Be sure to check out: drmarklangberg.wpenginepowered.com/sedation-dentistry.html for information on how we can help! And remember, we always have iPods, CD players, TV, headphones and nitrous oxide available at no additional cost. Call us at 248-356-8790 and let me help you overcome your odontophobia and get the dental care you need!
That’s all for this week! Until next time,
Dr. Mark W. Langberg, DDS, MAGD
26206 West 12 Mile Road, Suite 303
Southfield, MI 48034