Coping with Dental Anxiety

Here at Innovative Dentistry at SLU, we know that not everyone enjoys coming to the dentist. Beyond general anxiety, we have seen that there is often a deep-rooted fear. This is often from one, or several, bad experiences that occurred in a patient’s past. We absolutely understand how these experiences can make dentistry in its entirety not enjoyable. We strive to be available to support anyone who is ready to cope with their anxiety. If you “hate going to the dentist” or suffer from dental anxiety, we do not take it personally! We work very hard to make all of our patients as comfortable as possible while at our office.

Communicating with your dentist
Clear communication is always important.

Clear Communication
 To best assist us with accommodating your needs, it is important to be open and honest. When you call our office, give our front office staff a heads up. For some patients, we can offer to give you a tour of the office before you commit to an appointment, and let you meet our staff and give us a chance to understand your concerns before sitting in the chair. If at any point during your appointment, you are uncomfortable, please don’t hesitate to let us know. It helps us do our job better and treat your individual needs by knowing what you’re experiencing and how you’re feeling. Let the hygienist and dentist know if there was a particular bad experience, or a certain aspect of dentistry your nervous about. 

Nitrous Oxide helps calm nerves before a procedure.
Nitrous Oxide is a great option for anyone feeling nervous about treatment.

Comforts and Sedation
We offer blankets, heated neck pillows, noise cancelling headphones and lavender-scented warm cloths. We also offer different types of sedation. The lowest form of sedation we offer and what most people are familiar with is “laughing gas” or nitrous oxide. Some people like the nitrous option because it is out of your system by the time you leave the office. You are also able to drive yourself to and from your appointment, making it easier to come in around your schedule. Nitrous is used to help you to feel more relaxed and in most cases helps you to care less about the procedure. We always start with a low level and adjust the nitrous oxide depending on your tolerance levels. We also offer alternate non-IV and IV sedation options for the extremely fearful. Either of these options will require you to have a driver both to and from your appointments. Any questions or concerns regarding these amenities will be addressed at your initial visit. 

Stay Distracted
For a lot of people, having some source of distraction is helpful while sitting in the chair. We agree and that is why we offer headphones and encourage you to have music or a movie playing. Or feel free to get lost in an audiobook, podcast or listen to relaxing music, we encourage you to bring any form of listening material that will make your visit more comfortable. Remember to also try and focus on your breathing and relax. We know this is easier said than done. If you find yourself getting nervous in the chair, try to focus on your breath as this can ease tension and redirect your attention. 

At the end of the day, we understand that most of the patients who walk through our door are not excited to be here. We simply ask that you be open with us so that we are able to best serve your individual needs. We believe that your fears and concerns are valid and can work with you to sort out what may be causing your anxiety. It is our goal to be able to provide multiple options to make your appointments easier to endure. If you are not yet a patient of ours and would like to talk with us about your dental anxiety and how we can help, just give us a call! 




Dental Research Journal