As many as 20% of the population avoid going to the dentist because of fear. Dentistry must meet the challenge of reducing patient anxiety over receiving dental treatment. Some dentists work hard to create Anxiety Free environments for their patient.
This starts with creating an environment that is friendly and non-clinical. Having fun to look at wall colors and patterned wall and floor designs can help to achieve this. Displays of art in various areas can create the feel that you are in a living room, rather than a medical facility. If the people who work in the office are friendly and supportive, it counts tremendously in reducing dental fear.
Of course, the dentist must principally exude this warm empathetic welcome. Most people know that tooth discomfort can be blocked with Novocaine. But not everyone has had the opportunity to experience a painless Novocain injection, which is most often possible, using a slow injection and distraction techniques.
Additional measures to relax the anxious patient include the use of Nitrous Oxide (laughing) gas. This safe relaxing gas can give a patient a relaxed, euphoric, brave feeling, but only while it is breathed through a small nose piece. There are no residual effects, and patients feel normal a minute after ceasing to breath nitrous oxide.
For those patients with an extremely high anxiety level, there are hypnotic drugs available that can create a sleepy state, removing the anxiety barrier completely from the treatment. We call this Oral Conscious Sedation. During the period this drug is active hours of dental care can be accomplished in just one visit with the patient having little or no recollection of the work or even recalling they had been to the dentist!
Dr. David Brother, DMD, FAGD
Lexington Sedation Dentist
Smiles By Design
57 Bedford Street, Ste 110
Lexington, MA 02420