Dental Anxiety and Fear

The overwhelming fear of dental appointments can be a common cause of anxiety.  Many people visualize a drill-wielding man in a white coat just waiting to cause pain and remove teeth.  The reality, however, is very different.  The comfort, relaxation, and happiness of the patient are the primary focus of any good dental practice.  The staff at the practice will do whatever they can to reduce anxiety, allay fears, and provide painless, quick treatments.

How can one overcome dental anxiety?

Dental anxiety and fear can become completely overwhelming.  It is estimated that as many as 35 million people do not visit the dental office at all because they are too afraid.  Receiving regular dental check-ups and cleanings is incredibly important.  Having regular routine check-ups is the easiest way to maintain excellent oral hygiene and reduce the need for more complex treatments.

Here are some tips to help reduce dental fear and anxiety:

Talk to us – We can't read minds.  Though it can be hard to talk about irrational fears with a stranger, we can take extra precautions during visits if fears and anxiety are communicated.

Sedation – If there is no other way to cope, sedation offers an excellent option for many people.  There are several types of sedation, but the general premise behind them is the same: the patient regains their faculties after treatment is complete. At our office we offer nitrous oxide or general anesthesia to help ease children during treatment. 

    NITROUS ("Laughing Gas"): Nitrous is an analgesic and mild sedative used by many pediatric dentists. It is a very safe mixture of gas/oxygen which is inhaled by a nasal mask and takes effect within 5-10 minutes. Nitrous oxide in the dental office is never used as a general anesthetic: it does not put a child to sleep. Nitrous oxide decreases fear, anxiety, apprehension, and pain sensation. The use of nitrous oxide can help many children learn to cope with what can sometimes be a stressful experience for them.  Since nitrous oxide induces general fatigue and provides a pleasant sensation, it enables most children to remain relaxed for their dental  appointment. 

    GENERAL ANESTHESIA: From time to time we recommend a safer, more comfortable form of treatment for your child. This is to better complete possibly a long and difficult procedure in a controlled, safe environment. The level of care that is provided under these circumstances also allows us to complete all desired treatment in one visit.

In our practice, general anesthesia is administered by Shar Alikhani, M.D. Dr. Alikhani is a Board Certified   Physician Anesthesiologist who is fellowship trained in Pediatric Anesthesia. He has devoted more than ten years to the care of children, where he has served as director of Pediatric Anesthesia at Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and Mission Hospital Regional Trauma Center. 

If you have questions or concerns about how we can help you overcome anxiety and fear, please contact our office.


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