Dental Clinics Offer Sedation Dentistry for Anxious Patients
Do you use your fear of the dentist as an excuse not to go? Well, you’re certainly not alone. But you may not be able to use that excuse for long, because one dental practice in Seattle, Washington is confronting the issue of odontophobia without fear, and it may just change how dental clinics around the country manage anxiety.
Odontophobia, or the completely legitimate fear of the dentist, keeps hundreds (if not thousands) of people from going to the dentist each year. Not seeing a local dentist regularly can be devastating to the body’s overall health: even if someone practices good oral hygiene at home, a dentist has the training and expertise to know if something serious is present (for example, dentists can regularly check for oral cancer and be more thorough and accurate in their findings than a bathroom mirror can provide). The problem is, if someone refuses to go to the dentist for so long that multiple teeth start to decay and the gums as well as the jawbone start showing signs of poor health, then the only option left could be emergency dental surgery. It’s ironic (in a horrible and also predictable way) that the people with the strong aversions to dentists end up having the most dental problems.
Dental clinics all over the country are acknowledging this problem, and one clinic has done something about it. The Innovative Dentistry practice in Seattle, Washington offers dental appointments with an optional therapy dog — that’s right, there is a certified therapy dog in the office (his name is Humphrey) who comforts patients with severe anxiety.
Although you may not be able to find many therapy-dog-toting dentists, finding dental clinics that offer sedation dentistry is becoming easier and easier. Sedation dentistry usually involves taking a powerful but safe sedative before your appointment, which allows you to relax throughout the entire procedure. You never actually fall asleep from the sedative and you’re still able to interact with the dentist (although your memory may be a bit foggy afterward). Many dental clinics, including clinics that offer complex cosmetic dental procedures, give patients the option to undergo safe sedation. Dentists at these clinics are aware of the anxieties that their patients may have, and they see patients all the time who have stayed away from the dentist for years because of a strong fear.
No matter which soothing techniques work for you, one thing is clear: your teeth are too important to ignore, and it’s easier than ever to find a dentist who understands. Find out more about this topic here.