At Maple Grove Dentistry, Dr. Russell Jensen wants to help everyone feel comfortable with the state of their smiles. Patients who maintain six-month dental visits often feel empowered by the routine, and are glad to play a role in the fate of their own oral health. But for patients who suffer from dental anxiety, a trip to the dentist may fraught with challenges. Oral sedation may help.
Dr. Jenson does not take it personally when a patient has an aversion to dental treatments. Whether it be fear, anxiety, or shame—we will always take the time to listen to your concerns without judgment, and to help you find a way to be more comfortable getting the professional care you need.
Many of our patients with dental aversion or dental anxiety find oral sedation to be an excellent support in this process. Oral sedation uses a mild sedative and anti-anxiety medications to help patients relax and feel more comfortable during all dental interactions and procedures.
If you need dental care, but fear or aversion have kept you from the dentist, call Our Boise, Idaho dental clinic at 208-853-2221 to learn how we can help. Dr. Johnson understands the challenges you face.
Oral Sedation at Maple Grove
There are myriad reasons why a person may have negative associations with dental appointments and procedures.
- Memories of a unpleasant experience from childhood may trigger panic.
- A period of neglected oral hygiene may cause a feeling of shame.
- The sensory experience may be overwhelming (bright lights, loud dental tools).
- Fear of pain, needles, or immobilization may invoke stress.
Regardless of the causes or triggers, we welcome all our patients to share their feelings with us, from the very first visit. Before we start any treatment, we want to have an honest conversation about your needs and concerns. Our goal is to give you a healthy and happy smile, and we will work together to get you there, at a pace you are comfortable with.
Two of the most successful tools we use to help our patients with dental anxiety are nitrous oxide and oral sedation. Almost all of our Boise and Meridian patients can receive the benefits of sedation dentistry, which include deep relaxation, less nervousness, and the feeling of a faster, easier appointment. During your initial consultation, Dr. Jensen will review your concerns and determine what type of sedation dentistry will benefit you the most.
Nitrous Oxide Gas
Sometimes called laughing gas, nitrous oxide has been used safely in dentistry for decades. It is inhaled through the nose, via a facemask that delivers a combination of nitrous oxide and oxygen. The mask can be worn throughout treatment and can reduce both discomfort and feelings of anxiety. One of the benefits of nitrous oxide is that its effects do not last long after the mask is removed, and you will recover quickly when your procedure is finished. You will remain conscious the entire time, but will feel much more relaxed and unconcerned by the things that usually cause you to feel stressed. Patients routinely drive themselves home after sedation with nitrous oxide.
This option is extremely popular with patients, as it takes effect before you even sit down in the dental chair. When you arrive at our office, we will give you a pill to take to help you relax and feel calm. We will not start our treatments until the medicine has taken effect and you are comfortable proceeding. Oral sedation does not render you unconscious, but is so effective at reducing stress and anxiety that many of our previously uncomfortable patients actually fall asleep in the chair. The medication may stay in your system for several hours after your visit, so we require our patients to have a friend or family member drive them home afterwards.
Dental Anxiety is Common
Despite its necessity, it’s no secret that most people don’t really enjoy going to the dentist. Even if you have never had a cavity filled, dental visits interfere with our routines, are filled with unusual sounds and odors, and are strangely unlike any other social or medical experience. Perhaps there’s just something peculiar about having another person’s hands tooling around in the personal space of your mouth.
But we know in our hearts that dental visits are good for us, so we go to our dental cleanings and exams faithfully. By the time we leave our appointment, we feel good about ourselves and probably enjoyed visiting with our friendly dentist and his staff, anyway. So we consent to do it again in six months.
But for millions of Americans, this is not the full story. For many, dental care is not routine, due to economic factors, geography, or dental anxiety. If a person cannot access routine preventive treatments (regardless of the initial cause) he or she is more likely to suffer tooth decay and gum disease. Ultimately, patients with erratic dental care will be more likely to need restorative treatments, such as fillings, root canals, or dental crowns. The longer treatment is delayed, the more painful and severe the symptoms can become. Patients may also feel shame about needing or delaying dental work, which only worsens the situation, and creates another layer to the barriers that prevent them from seeking help.
At Maple Grove Dentistry, we aim to combat the cycle of dental anxiety, neglect, and shame with open ears and an open heart.
If you or someone you love suffers from dental anxiety that prohibits access to valuable dental care, now is the time to intervene. More and more people are able to keep their teeth for life today, but not if they neglect their dental health. Without regular preventive and restorative treatments, many adults fall prey to aggressive gum disease, which leads to tooth loss. Don’t let fear or avoidance stand in your way of a healthy smile.
One of the dangers of gum disease is that it can have a slow onset, which can lead sufferers to downplay its severity. If a person experiences gum recession and sore gums, he may think “my teeth are just getting old; that’s just what happens.” But all those signs of “just getting old” can be treated with periodontal care to minimize symptoms. A dental intervention can save a loved one’s teeth, and help him maintain his quality of life indefinitely.
The best way to help loved ones take steps toward reclaiming their oral health is to initiate an honest conversation about their avoidance of dental care. Start with open questions, and let them explain their feelings and frustrations:
- When was the last time you saw a dentist?
- Why haven’t you seen a dentist lately?
- Are any teeth bothering you? Do you have pain?
- Do your gums ever get swollen or sore?
Once he or she has had the chance to speak, an explanation of fears or anxieties may come out naturally. If not, ask more direct questions:
- Why do you avoid going to the dentist?
- What do expect to happen?
- Have you had a bad experience in the past?
Oftentimes, giving a person the chance to discuss his or her feelings can be the first step toward seeing things in a new light. If you’ve had positive experiences at Maple Grove Dentistry or elsewhere, share those stories with your loved one and perhaps he or she will be more open to seeking treatment.
Prevent Dental Problems, Prevent Dental Anxiety
Millions of Americans suffer from dental anxiety, and much of it is connected to the way we approach our dental health. Seeing a dentist is not like going to a doctor. Most of us try to live well, eat healthy, exercise often—but we only see a doctor when we get sick. Applying this pattern to your dental health sets you up for poor oral health; dental visits are actually the best prevention for painful conditions like tooth decay and gum disease.
If you only see a dentist when you have a toothache or other problem, you miss out on the preventive side of dentistry, and cause yourself unnecessary pain (and expensive restorative treatments). You also create negative associations with dentistry, which can worsen dental anxiety.
Many who experience dental anxiety or aversion draw on memories of an earlier age. In the past, there was a time when the dental industry didn’t put so much effort into patient comfort. But today, we approach every patient with sensitivity to past experiences and present state of health. We offer sedation and anesthetics to make treatments more comfortable, and enjoy forming a partnership with each patient to preserve dental function, any way we can.
There is no reason why dental appointments should be painful or stressful for anyone in the 21st century; modern dental offices utilize effective anesthetics and many methods of sedation. For the next generation, we can start dental appointments early in life, and teach our children that six-month visits are the best way to keep teeth healthy and prevent dental disasters. The more we instill this message, the better we can prevent painful conditions and reduce overall fear and anxiety.
If someone you love needs support initiating dental care, call us today at 208-853-2221 to speak with a member of our team about dental anxiety and aversion. Dr. Johnson wants to help everyone get the care they need. Our Boise, Idaho dental clinic can help!