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New Methods For Beating Dental Anxiety

Jul 4, 2008
Millions of individuals experience severe anxiety in the time leading up to and during a dental appointment. From a psychological perspective, this is unsurprising. Traditional dental techniques causes a great deal of pain and uncertainty. We are placed in an unfamiliar environment and made to submit to procedures that are often disconcertingly loud, very painful, and sometimes nauseating. Our brains naturally associate the dentist's office with these sensations, and that association is strengthened with each visit.

Some people have managed their dental anxiety by asking their dentists for a sedative to take before each appointment. While sedative medications such as valium or xanex can be highly effective in the short-term management of dental anxiety, they do not eliminate all of the discomfort that you may experience during a visit to the dentist's office. Furthermore, they create a reliance upon an external means of anxiety reduction. This fosters a feeling of helplessness that can actually increase the overall experience of dread that surrounds the dental experience. Still, if you go to the dentist infrequently, anxiolytic medications are a viable option.

Psychological treatments have also been effective in reducing dental anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral skills training can help you to reduce the anxiety leading up to a dental appointment. It can also help to increase pain tolerance and decrease symptoms of panic during your actual examination and treatment. However, because this type of treatment generally takes multiple sessions over a period of weeks or months, it is a fairly large commitment for any but the most severe dental anxiety. Also, it may become necessary to go in for "tune up" sessions with your psychotherapist later on as your anxiety begins to return.

A final way to reduce dental anxiety is to simply reduce the cause of the anxiety. No, I'm not suggesting that you stop seeing the dentist. New types of dental treatments can nearly eliminate the pain and discomfort which bring about dental anxiety. These new techniques use laser technology to detect tiny cavities before they become visible or painful. The lasers can also be used to eliminate the bacteria and damaged tissue without the heat, noise, or pain of traditional drilling.

The fillings required for laser-drilled cavities are much smaller than they would be if created using traditional methods. They are also created in a way that is more gentle and sterile than drilling, and so they are less likely to require root canals in the future. Although laser dentistry is currently somewhat more expensive that traditional treatment, it can be expected to become much more affordable in coming years and to eventually replace traditional methods entirely.
About the Author
Dallas writes about Tampa laser dentistry and helps connect people with a Tampa Bay Dentist who can brighten their smiles.
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