Life

Ask the dentist: Sedation is an option if you are afraid of having dental treatment

Lucy Stock, dentist at Gentle Dental Care, says that with visiting the dentist a prime phobia, it's worth considering sedation

You can take tablets or gas to make treatment doable if you are fearful
Lucy Stock

MOST people have something that they are afraid of. For myself I hate roller-coasters. The last time I was at a fairground, I went on a baby ride with my seven-year-old daughter; me gripping on for grim death, her shrieking with delight wanting to go faster. Needless to say, now I just avoid the whole sweaty palms experience altogether and the chance of being shown up by my child.

Almost half of UK adults have a fear of the dentist, with 12 per cent of these suffering from an extreme dental anxiety or phobia. In addition, visiting the dentist is ranked number one for making people nervous – even more popular than a fear of heights.

Of course, if you are so minded, you can avoid dentistry altogether. However, this strategy often leads to an escalation of problems – prolonged pain, resignation to uncomfortable eating, enduring an unsightly smile and losing teeth; teeth which would have been saveable if dealt with early enough.

For people needing extra support sedation is a great option. Even some dentists have sedation for dental treatment themselves. There are many different types available, depending on your needs.

With all types of sedation, you are awake but just not as aware; the edge is taken off the treatment. Sensations like the noise and vibration of the drill become tolerable. For those who are terrified of needles, there are tablets you can take or laughing gas to make treatment doable.

There's also the option of an injection in the arm which works really well if you are seeking deeper relaxation. With the injection, time flies and it has the added bonus that sometimes people have amnesia about the appointment. This type of sedation has been used worldwide for many years and has an incredibly safe track record.

Dental teams are more in tune with dental phobics' needs than ever before. Finding a dental team who you feel comfortable with is the first step. Try putting your dental demons to bed; dealing with a fear and conquering anxiety can bring a deep feeling of wellness and inner achievement.

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