I’m embarrassed to admit this, but when I was a kid, I hated the dentist so much. At age five, I actually kicked my dentist in the teeth (with my little cowboy boots, none the less), and after that, my mom really never made me go back. Now I’m almost thirty and I haven’t been in a dental chair since that fateful day. I’ve battled with some medical issues that have really affected my teeth, but I can’t even stand the thought of going to the dentist. I tried and I was so anxious that I practically hyperventilated. My dentist doesn’t help much either… he just makes me feel like I’m being a baby. I can’t control this. I honestly wish that I could! My friend told me my only option would be a sedation dentist, but I don’t know if that will work either because I definitely won’t be in control at all. What options do I have besides seeing a sedation dentist if I want to control my anxiety and get all my work done? — Seth
Oh boy… I’m betting your dentist didn’t enjoy that little rodeo! However, please know that you are not alone. Many people just like you had bad childhood experiences at the dentist that caused life-long anxiety.
And yes, a sedation dentist is probably your best option, but not for the reasons you might think. Sedation dentists, number one, have a good understanding of dental anxiety. There are many dentists who just brush anxiety aside and basically take the stance that patients just need to buck up and power through the work. A sedation dentist goes through extensive training to become certified, because they know that anxiety is real and that anxious patients need extra help. For you, this means that you’ll likely have a completely different experience — even if you choose not to take any medications. You’ll find a relaxing environment that often includes music and TVs, to put you at ease.
Most dentists do “conscious sedation” these days. That means you’re conscience during the procedure, leaving you very much in control. Doctors like it because you can be an active participant and follow instructions. However, you’ll be relaxed enough that you really won’t care about what is going on even though you are aware of it and there are people surrounding you.
It’s definitely worth your time to meet with a sedation doctor and see what it’s all about. He or she will likely start with an exam and x-rays, but it will be a great way to get to know the doctor before signing on for any additional treatment.