Knowing and trusting your dental team is an essential part of maintaining optimal oral health. If you are one of the millions who will need a dental procedure this year, that trust is even more vital.
Going to the dentist for general checkups scare between 9 and 20 percent of Americans, and around 80% of people have at least minor anxieties about dental procedures.
Often the people who fall into the categories above choose not to get proper oral care because of their fears. Fortunately, even the most anxiety-ridden amongst us can have great experiences with dental visits and procedures if we simply find the right team to help us through.
An Engaging Team is a Winning Team
Engagement begins with the office. Remember all the old sitcom dentist episodes where a new patient would walk in full of anxiety and immediately hear the screams of injured and terrified patients from down the hall? Do you also remember how uncomfortable and unwelcome those waiting rooms looked? Yikes!
The goal of every office should be to make patients comfortable the second they enter. Your mission as a patient is to find an office that fits that criterion. Finding an office with an almost spa-like setting that puts patients at ease right away is very important.
Assistants and hygienists also play an important role in creating an inviting and patient-centric environment. They will allow you to ask questions and be open and honest with answers. They will engage you in conversation and create a relationship in order to ensure you are as comfortable and anxiety-free as possible.
A dental team that is willing to tell you exactly what they are doing, or will be doing, during a procedure is the kind of team you’ll feel comfortable around. Knowing the basics of the procedure, like getting braces, will allow you to decide what, if anything, you’d like to do to feel more comfortable, and will help the staff gauge your comfort level.
Talking things out helps everyone involved to feel like they are a part of the process, and this can have a very positive effect on the fear factor or patient anxiety.
One essential way that a great team can provide painless procedures and reduce patient fears is through quality preventative care. Not only does preventative care eliminate the need for further procedures,but it also gives you a chance to get comfortable in an office before moving on to a major procedure.
Preventative dental care can also help to diagnose broader health issues in patients. Finding medical problems before they cause major issues helps patients to develop a higher level of trust with their dental team and also helps to avoid disruptive and sometimes-painful medical procedures down the road.
Tools to Ease Your Pain and Worry
The areas we discussed above are very helpful in easing you into a great dental experience, but there are some concrete tools that are used in dental offices that will also help to keep you calm during dental procedures. Dentists are always researching and learning to ensure that they have the latest and greatest equipment to put patients at ease.
N2O, also known as laughing gas, is a very common tool found in dental offices. The administration of this gas allows patients to stay awake and somewhat alert but worry-free throughout their time in the dentist’s chair, regardless of how major or minor their visit is.
What is this Miracle Drug?
Nitrous Oxide is a colorless, odorless gas first used in surgical and dental settings in the mid-1800s. Nitrous Oxide is a safe and effective sedative that dentists mix with oxygen and administer through a facemask. It is not intended to put you to sleep, but instead to take away anxieties and help you to feel comfortable.
How is Nitrous Oxide Administered?
The gas is administered through a small mask that fits over your nose. It is mixed with 50-70% oxygen and no less than 30% N2O. The gas quickly calms you down, but without the effects lasting long after your procedure is completed.
Who should use it?
Those who have excessive fears or anxieties about dental procedures would benefit from N2O. If you are very sensitive to pain, this may also be an option to consider. A good dentist will be happy to discuss whether or not the use of this tool during your next dental procedure would be a good fit.
Is N2O safe?
Nitrous Oxide has been used and studied in the dental world since the 1800s. It is an entirely safe and effective tool to reduce anxiety and erase pain during procedures. N2O is administered by professionals who have been trained to use it properly, and it is heavily regulated to ensure patient safety. So the short answer is, yes, it’s perfectly safe!
The use of lasers in dentistry is still fairly new, compared to many practices, and being researched heavily. However, the FDA has permitted its use
in many situations, and they are regarded as very helpful in making some dental procedures much quicker and less painful or invasive.
Lasers can be used in a variety of dental treatments to increase patient comfort. Some simple procedures, like preparing enamel surrounding the area where a filling will be placed or reshaping gums and removing bacteria during root canals, are made easier through the use of lasers.
Teeth whitening procedures are also often done with lasers to quicken the process. Laser energy activates the solution applied to the surface of teeth during the first steps of the whitening process. The use of lasers, in this case, is not to ease the pain, but rather to get you in and out of the office as quickly as possible so that you can get on with your day.
Saving You Time
Modern technology has stepped in to help save you time in another major way as well. Some dentists now use CEREC or Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, which allows you to have your missing or broken teeth taken care of in one simple visit.
The CEREC system was used for the first time in 1985, so the system is not new. It has been studied successfully for more than 30 years now and has found to be incredibly beneficial to patients. Those who need to save time or suffer from dental anxiety will benefit from this treatment.
Communication is Key
Dentists and their staff are willing to go above and beyond to make their patients comfortable during procedures and general visits. Dentists are often great communicators and very passionate about caring for you. They want you to tell them if something doesn’t feel right so that they have a chance to fix it immediately.
Everyone is unique, and dentists spend a majority of their time listening to you to ensure you are getting the proper treatment for your unique issues and attitudes. If you try to fake it, you aren’t doing yourself or your dentist any favors. Asking for Nitrous Oxide is perfectly acceptable in almost every office, so if you think it will help, ask!
Take the time to ask questions and read over any materials you receive. Treat any time before a procedure as you would treat a pre-appointment with any other doctor. Bring a list of questions if you have some, and make sure you listen carefully to the answers. Your dentist wants you to know your options for a pain-free and worry-free procedure.
The Long and Short of it
The greatest dental teams utilize new technologies, continued education, long-standing techniques, and friendly, relaxing environments to produce pain-free procedures for patients. Creating a familial office environment is the main focus of dentists who hope to have loyal patients with nothing but positive memories of their visits.
Remember to communicate with your dentist; even the best of the best need to know where their patients stand in order to execute a procedure that is completely free of pain and anxiety. When you have a great rapport with your dental team, the anxiety that can sometimes occur during visits melts away.
Don’t forget to embrace Nitrous Oxide if you are feeling nervous or if you are ultra-sensitive to pain. If you need to make up some time, trying CEREC or other laser treatments could be a great alternative.
No matter what your preference, you will know when you’ve found your dentist. If you need some time or space to decide who is right, try calling or setting up a consultation online. Many dental teams will do consultations for free to ease the minds of potential patients. So get out there and start your journey to optimal oral health today!