There are two main reasons we’re scared of the dentist. One, we think it’s going to hurt. And two, their instruments look rather alarming. A lot of these dental instruments are similar to surgeon’s tools, but we’re generally unconscious during surgery, so we don’t look at those fear-inducing gadgets – except maybe on TV shows.
That’s actually the first step in getting over odontophobia – avoidance. No, we don’t mean you should stay away from the dentist altogether. It just means you should find out the bits that frighten you, then ask your Parramatta dentist if there’s any way around it. Modern dentistry has already overcome the most difficult bits. Patients just don’t know it yet.
For example, while laughing gas is rarely used (except in comedy sketches), there are other ways to lighten your mood during your appointment. You could sign up for sleep dentistry. Your dentist will give you a mild sedative that lets you nap, if you wish. It doesn’t knock you out, though some patients get so relaxed they consciously opt to doze.
Sleeping through the worst
Generally, your sleep dentistry dose will calm your nerves and give you a pleasant, pain-free sensation. It has quick recovery time, and you’ll be back to normal within an hour. Some patients even ‘forget’ the more intricate details of their procedure, because the meds have a mild amnesiac effect. It won’t mess with your long-term memory, but it makes dentists far less scary.
Another dental procedure that terrifies patients – and that a lot of us have to go through – is wisdom tooth impaction. It’s one of the top reasons why adults visit their dentist. For many patients, it’s the first, last, and only time they ever enter a dental clinic, because the war stories are legendary! Fortunately, impaction and root canals can be sorted with minimal fuss.
One technique is laser dentistry. In the past, your dentist would have to anaesthetise you, then manually crack your jaw bone to release the trapped tooth. With root canals, there was a lot of painful drilling and scraping. Today, lasers vaporise the gum tissue surrounding your impaction or infection. This reduces pain, swelling, and bleeding, lowering the potential for infection.
Dental patients are sometimes surprised their actual dental visit was painless. It’s the aftermath that’s the problem. How so? Sedation techniques have come a long way, so you might feel close to nothing while you’re actually in the dental chair. But your experience once you get back home may have you dodging the dentist for years to come. Talking to said dentist helps.
Today’s medics don’t think they’re know-it-alls. They may be irritated by those stats you Googled before your appointment, but they’ll be happy to walk you through a pain management plan. Plus, sometimes, you just need to see how friendly and open your local dentist can be. Pretty soon, you’ll realise there’s nothing to fear, and you’ll visit far more often.