Do You Have Dentist Anxiety?
“A good, trusted dentist who puts you at ease will never go out of fashion,” says Alexandre DaSilva, DDS, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Dental School. “But technology can also help you relax, decrease anxiety, and decrease pain.”
Pain-free injections. If you fear needles, an anesthetic gel, spray, or rinse can numb the area before you get a shot. (These anesthetics can also relieve a generally oversensitive mouth.) Studies show that the speed of injections, not the needle, can make a shot hurt at the dentist. Some dentists now use a machine, known as The Wand, to deliver a slow, steady injection. Many patients say they have less pain this way.
Spa-like experience. Some dentists try to take you to another place. Many practices now offer wraparound virtual reality headsets that absorb you in movies, games, or music videos while the dentist works.
“Virtual reality can help take you out of the situation,” DaSilva says. “You also may remember less about the experience,” he adds, which means it might be easier to go back the next time.
Some dentists use aromatherapy and sound machines in their offices, too. Studies show that orange and lavender fragrances can calm anxiety and stress at the dentist. Instead of the sound of drills and the metallic smell of tools, you could hear a breeze blowing over a field of fragrant lavender.
Total relaxation. Many dentists offer nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas.” You inhale the gas through your nose during the entire procedure. You’re back to normal shortly afterward and can drive yourself home.
For something stronger, dentists might prescribe a sedative medicine that you take the night before your appointment, then again an hour or so beforehand.